A Valley physical education teacher is getting recognition for spotting a need and creating a program.
Now the program is doing so much more than he could have ever hoped for or imaged.
Jeff Ziebell has nearly 20 years of success as a P. E. teacher at Shepherd Junior High in Mesa.
He's got multiple banners on the wall to prove it.
Yet a simple game of catch with a balloon might be his most rewarding accomplishment.
Ziebell realized last year that the students with special needs at Shepherd weren't getting as much physical activity as the state requires, so he developed an adaptive P. E. class that pairs able bodied students with those who rarely get that type of physical and social interaction.
Thomas Henthorn is blind and was left out or isolated from most gym activities until Ziebell started the program.
"It's amazing because you'll see, you know, the P.E. buddies who are in here helping, the kids will see them come off their bus and they'll wave to them and give them 'high fives.'
Substitute teacher Chuck Lafferty was so taken aback by Ziebell's efforts, he contacted CBS 5's Pay It Forward program.
"The reason that I sent this (nomination) in is because of who you are. The creativity, the love, the care, the affection that you show kids," Lafferty said.
Lafferty, along with CBS 5 presented Ziebell with $500.
Ziebell told CBS 5 News the $500 will go a long way to purchase better equipment for the kids.
He also is getting inquiries from other schools looking to start adaptive P. E. there.
"In junior high, you kind of get, 'it's all about me,' and you get inner focused and this helps those kids to stay outward focused and say, 'hey, there are people who need help and I can do that," Ziebell said.
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