“DJ has extraordinary passion that truly makes her classes both instructional and fun,” Wagonfield said of the nine-year veteran of the city schools.
“She has excellent interpersonal skills and spends hours transforming the gym into an ever-changing learning area.”
Wagonfield said just one of many examples was how in October, DeLong incorporated the Halloween holiday into having her students develop their motor skills via a customized challenge course.
The obstacle course included Halloween-themed music and lighting set up by DeLong to add fun to her PE class at the school, which has more than 800 students.
Wagonfield had DeLong, a Hamilton native and graduate of the city schools, as a student decades ago and even then saw the potential of the future teacher-to-be.
“She was very athletic and our PE teacher at the time was stellar,” she said of the now retired, former Ridgeway gym teacher Robin Michael.
“DJ learned from the best and still gives Michael credit today for guiding her in the direction of becoming a PE teacher.”
DeLong said her former PE instructor was very instrumental in guiding her development as Ohio’s top honored gym teacher.
“I didn’t realize I was the only one in the state to receive it (award) until I recently went to the (Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) convention to receive it. I was really surprised,” said DeLong.
The legacy of carrying on Michael’s high-quality instruction at Ridgeway is one DeLong is proud of, she said.
“I really love working here at Ridgeway. I don’t actually call it work. I say ‘I’m coming to school’ and it’s really fun to be with the kids and help them pursue activities that will help them be physically active for the rest of their lives.”