Rob Kaiser ’13 feels lucky to be teaching physical education in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I get to teach 800 of the best kids in the world,” he said. “I teach alongside some of the greatest educators in the world, and in a district that strives to create educational equity; which is life changing every day.”
Apparently, the feeling is mutual. Last spring, the Tulsa school district chose him as teacher of the year.
“The award was so much bigger than me,” Rob said. “I hope that it continues to shine light into all of the amazing things that happen in Cooper Elementary School due to our awesome staff and amazing students.”
Rob came to Cooper Elementary through the Teach for America program shortly after he earned his health and physical education degree from LC. In the nearly four years since then, he founded a running club and a Special Olympics team, served on the School Improvement Plan committee, and facilitated professional development workshops for teachers.
Sports are woven tightly into the fabric of Rob’s life. His grandfather is a PGA professional and his mother was a gymnast in college. He played basketball at LC while his twin brother wrestled at another university, and his two younger brothers are also active athletes. “I grew up around all sports,” he said.
In addition to motivational family members, Kaiser credits much of his success to the mentors he had during his time at University of Lynchburg. The health physical education faculty helped him develop content knowledge and teaching skills that allowed him to enter the workforce “on a different level” than his counterparts, he said. Education professors Dr. Susan Thompson and Dr. Ed Polloway had profound impacts on his teaching style and his desire to serve students with special needs.
Playing on the men’s basketball team allowed him to learn a lot from Coach Hilliary Scott, too. “The standard of excellence that drives the Lynchburg men’s’ basketball program, along with the guidance from Coach Scott, puts any player in a position to be successful at Lynchburg and long after graduation,” Rob said.
A coach, Rob learned, teaches much more than just how to win a game. A coach also teaches team members about perseverance, hard work, determination, teamwork, and dedication. “I know that Coach Scott made such a profound impact in my life as my coach at Lynchburg for four years,” he said. “Immediately when I had the opportunity to step into a coaching role at Cooper Elementary School, I jumped at the opportunity and I hope that I am having one tenth of the same impact on my kids that Coach Scott had with me.”
“University of Lynchburg provided me with so many opportunities to grow as a basketball player, student, leader, and person,” Kaiser explains. “The University of Lynchburg community and family have been so paramount in everything that I have done since graduation, and I look forward to that trend continuing.”