Feb 28, 2024
Topic: Meet our Alumni
Joseph Eckert is one of four physical education teachers at Cooper Middle School and believes middle school P.E. is one of the most important classes students take. “Students learn social, cognitive and physical skills when they are doing athletic endeavors. I also tie much of my class to life skills, like problem solving, coaching and developing leadership, not to mention confidence in movement,” said Eckert. His work as a P.E. teacher – as well as Buffalo Grove High School’s diving and water polo coach – allows him to foster relationships with some students from 6th grade through 12th grade and permits him to share his passion for physical fitness with kids. “Even our section on badminton teaches students deeper skills in strategy, leadership and motivation while allowing them to connect socially with others,” he states.
In sixth grade, Eckert started lifting weights to bulk up his small frame. That led to a life of fitness and a yearning to help others feel good about themselves. From Cooper Middle School – where he attended – to Harper College – where he earned his associate’s degree – then Northeastern University for his bachelor’s, and St. Xavier for his master’s degree, Eckert has found teaching rewarding. He has coached students to high levels of achievement, including All American athletes. He has also prevented students from hazards. In fact, he is humbled to share that a former student of his, who had thoughts of suicide, wrote a two-page letter about the positive influence Eckert had on him, which thankfully dissuaded him from harming himself. That’s the kind of impact that Eckert has on his students. “I just think that when you move in a physical way, it gets you out of your head and into your body. Movement plays a major role in regulating emotions and building relationships,” he added.
In his spare time, Eckert lives what he preaches by spending a lot of his time doing physical activity. He was the national champion freestyle jet skier and ranked third in the world for a time. He also coaches swimming, diving and water polo for the local high school, while spending time with his family and encouraging them in the same way he encourages his students. For them, it’s a family affair and an important part of their lives.