By Laurie Lechlitner
(Editor’s note, this story first appeared in the June 4 edition of The Papers)
ELKHART – “I remember wanting to be a teacher when I was 10,” stated Christy Speicher-Grubb. “I grew up in Milford, and lived close to an Amish family. I entertained the children when their mother was busy baking by helping them learn English. We also had ‘school days’ in the yard with a pretend gym class. I think I’ve always had the heart of a teacher.”
Grubb graduated in 1989 from Tri State University, Angola, with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She went on to get her master’s degree from Walden University in Elementary Reading.
“I taught at Woodland Elementary School 25 years. Twenty of those years I was in the fifth grade classroom. My last five years I taught sixth grade.” Being an athlete, Grubb added to her credentials a license in physical education and health.
“I loved my time at Woodland. We were a family of staff members. When a teacher is in the elementary classroom all day, there is a special bond that is formed with the students.”
Three years ago, Grubb was up for a new challenge. She moved to West Side Middle School to teach P.E. to seventh and eighth grade students.
Although Grubb is in charge of the girls’ curriculum, she and Matt Walker, the boys P.E. teacher, at times have classes together. “The girls and boys often do warm-ups, running and various activities/sports on a daily basis.”
Often, she feels like a second mother to many students in her gym classes. “Middle school girls require a lot of attention. Tending to minor injuries, giving advice, or being a listener to those in need occur on a daily basis.”
Motivating her P.E. students and getting them to understand the health benefits of physical activity seem to be her biggest challenge. “I’ve learned early in my teaching career that students need to know the set expectations, and the importance of setting goals. If students can learn to motivate themselves in the gym/classroom and strive for their goals, then these practices may carry over for a lifetime.”
One of the things she strives to do is to build self-confidence in her girls. “Middle school girls are very self-conscious. It’s important that they learn to like themselves. This however, is a learning process that takes time.”
She and her husband, Matt, have three athletic children of their own. “My two daughters: Katelyn, 28, and Krystal, 20, both earned a Division 1 athletic scholarship for tennis. My son Kyle, 25, played tennis, and golf in high school.”
Christy and her husband both were able to see first-hand the payoff of all the work in the offseason as Katelyn and Krystal both earned collegiate full rides, Katelyn to Bowling Green, and Krystal to IUPUI, where Krystal is currently playing for the Jaguars. Katelyn never lost a Northern Lakes Conference singles match at Memorial and Krystal also went on to become an NLC champion and a state finalist.
The Grubbs have been assistant girls’ tennis coaches at Memorial High School for the past seven years. Matt was also the head boys’ coach for three of those years while Christy assisted.
The Grubbs have also coached and assisted each other with basketball, travel volleyball, track, and 20-plus years of softball and baseball at Cleveland League. Christy started her coaching career at Jimtown, coaching varsity volleyball from 1991-93.
One of the things the Grubbs have stressed to those they coach is they’re a family. “We care deeply about all our kids. Beyond our time with them in our own sport, we’ll go watch them in other sporting and school events, where they still call us ‘Coach.’ The main thing is to show we love them.”