BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Each month, NewsChannel 34 highlights a local teacher who has been nominated by the public for the way they educate.

This month, we are recognizing a physical education teacher who keeps her students active, learning, and excited.

MariAnne Hertzog has been named as October’s Golden Apple Award Winner. Hertzog is the PE teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary and has been teaching in the Binghamton School District for over 20 years.

Physical Education Teacher at Thomas Jefferson, MariAnne Hertzog says, “I started off with a lot of interest in fitness and teaching fitness classes and training; and I actually have taught fitness classes and trained for 30 years. And when I was in college, I knew that I couldn’t really make a good living doing just that, so I decided to get my degree in physical education and teaching.”

Hertzog received her bachelor’s from Ithaca College, and her master’s from Cortland. She says that up until the pandemic, she was training people at the Court Jester, and now she hosts an after-school fitness session with Binghamton faculty and staff.

Physical Education Teacher at Thomas Jefferson, MariAnne Hertzog says “in my first few years, I learned an awful lot from my students, and from that, I was able to create what I thought was necessary as far as curriculum goes.”

As a Phys-ed teacher, Hertzog teaches the same students throughout all of their years at TJ. She says that she has students for 6 years before they graduate and move onto Middle School.

Physical Education Teacher at Thomas Jefferson, MariAnne Hertzog says “It is probably one of the best parts of being a physical education teacher is you get to see them coming in as Kindergartners, they’re four or five years old, they’re stepping into the school and they’re scared, and you know they’re small, and then you get to watch that growth that happens over time. And you get to watch them, and you get to develop that relationship with them, and then they leave you in fifth grade, they graduate, and your heart just breaks.”

When the pandemic hit, PE teachers had to get creative in order to keep their students up and active at home. Hertzog says she started a YouTube channel and posted weekly videos that showcased a new activity or unit in gym class for the students to follow along on their own.

“Fifth Grade Student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary Josarra Tyler says, “When we were going through COVID, she still found a way to get us moving, and even during Zoom, she even had a Google classroom and she still got us moving.”

Her students say that Mrs. Hertzog is always willing to talk to you about whatever is on your mind.

Fifth Grader at Thomas Jefferson Camilla Criscitello says, “She can tell if you’re feeling down or sad, she knows and she’ll let you talk to her whenever and however. And she can tell when you’re sad or not, and she always comes up to you whenever you’re feeling sad.”

Criscitello says that when the teams are not even, Mrs. Hertzog joins in to even them out, but she plays to win. Hertzog says that she attributes her success to the fact that she teaches an interactive, hands-on subject.