Kuna teacher switches careers to teach fitness

Shawn Patterson2
Shawn Patterson teaches students how to play disc golf.


Shawn Patterson grew up on a Kuna farm where he learned he wanted to do something different, besides being a farmer.

“My parents taught me the importance of hard work and that work could be fun,” Patterson said. “I haven’t ever been afraid of work because of what my parents taught me.”

After graduating from Kuna High School, Patterson left the family farm to make $56,000 a year working at the Micron fabrication plant.

“I was making good money while not having a college degree,” Patterson said.

But working in the technology businesses wasn’t for him. After five years at Micron, he attended Boise State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.

“I still don’t make as much money as I was making at Micron, but wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Patterson said.

His world now is teaching kids how to live a healthy lifestyle, juggling a family of 10 and coaching the girls varsity softball team at Kuna High School.

Shawn Patterson
Shawn Patterson reviews fitness goals with his fourth grade students.

“P.E is different compared to 20 years ago,” Patterson said. “It’s not a place where kids come and I roll a ball out. I make sure all my kids are learning new activities and moving.”

Patterson has spent the last 13 years teaching physical education in the Kuna School District, the past nine at Crimson Point Elementary. This year he was named Idaho’s and the Northwest regions Teacher of the Year.

“I wasn’t surprised that Shawn got this honor, he is amazing,” said Brandon Crusat, principal at Crimson Point Elementary. “Anytime I walk into the gym the kids are always moving and learning while they move — that is why Shawn is successful.”

Patterson wants all his students to find a physical activity they enjoy and learn. He gives kids the opportunity to experience different activities from disco golf to cup stacking and lessons about the heart and body.

“I want to get kids motivated to move and learn at the same time,” Patterson said. “Our attitudes can have a huge impact on how we react to the negative and positive things that happen around us each day. If your attitude is a good one and you’re doing the best you can, things generally work out.”

He and his wife Loralee have eight children, ranging in age from 21 to 3. She is a stay-at-home mom but considering going back to school to study nursing. Sometimes the family struggles living on just one salary.

“But we have a roof over our heads and food on the table,” He said. “My first teaching job I was making $19,000 a year. Our attitudes can have a huge impact on how we react to the negative and positive things that happen around us each day. If your attitude is a good one and you’re doing the best you can, things generally work out.”

Because of his teaching success, Patterson is a finalist for the Physical Education Teacher of the Year award nationwide. In February, he will attend the National SHAPE America Conference.

“I’m very humbled and I know there is a need for kids to be active,” Patterson said.

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Patterson Family

Fun facts about Shawn Patterson

  • Favorite drink? Fruit smoothies.
  • Favorite sport? I love watching and coaching fast pitch softball, but I also love the sport curling. I’ll play any of them. 
  • What are the first three songs on your current music playlist? “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas” by Alabama, “Wake Up the Sleeping Giant” by Twisted Sister and “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner (I know a little different).
  • You just got a free plane ticket to go anywhere. Where are you going? I would take a trip to Alaska. I love nature and have always wanted to take a trip there to hunt, fish and sight see. New Zealand would be a nice trip as well. 
  • Three things you can’t live without? My faith in God and Jesus Christ, my family and softball. 
  • If you could have any other profession besides your current one, what would you do?  I truly do love my job. I guess it would to be some kind of wilderness tour guide. I love to be outdoors in the mountains. A professional fisher — do they have those?
  • Favorite teacher growing up? Rob Blaine was my favorite teacher. He was one of my history teachers at Kuna High. He truly cared for his students but at the same time he pushed you to be a better student and person.

Andrew Reed

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