The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


The Student News Site of East Lansing High School


Don’t change the student, adapt the class

Photo by Joelle King
Adaptive PE teacher Nicole Kaufman and Shelby Duma (9) help and encourage Gorgy Jozelji (11) to move the ball into the designated hula hoop. Games like this help Jozelji with enhancing his motor skills.

When Tim Bauman (12) walks into the gym, he’s not worried about how fast he can run or if he will win that day’s game. The only thing he’s thinking about is how excited he is to have the opportunities to do burpees and sit-ups to stay healthy. 

Bauman is part of Adaptive PE, a physical education class designed to work with students with learning disabilities. Nicole Kaufman, an adaptive physical education teacher at the Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD), teaches Adaptive PE every Thursday during the sixth hour in the aux gym. She is not bothered about how fast her students are, or which one of her students could win the game. Kaufman does her job to make sure each student feels included and overall has fun. 

Adaptive PE isn’t just for the students to connect with each other and their teachers, it is also a class where LINKS, or general education students assigned to work with special education students, can learn more about their link. Elsa Elhenicky( 11) has done LINKS for three years and enjoys coming back every year for the positive interactions and encounters. 

Elhenicky finds that Adaptive PE is greatly beneficial to the students in special education teachers Lizzy Bastin’s and Heather Lounsbury’s class. It teaches the kids a lot about working together.

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“After every game we find a friend from the other team and congratulate them on a good game,” Elhenicky said. “I believe adaptive PE is extremely useful and significant in our students’ growth.”

 Kaufman has done Adaptive PE for 13 years now after beginning her career teaching K-12 physical education. That was until one day when she attended a seminar about Adaptive PE, which led to her going to a centerbase program. There, they offered a variety of instructional programs and support services to students with disabilities. After Kaufman attended the seminar, she was inspired to teach Adaptive PE.

Adaptive PE teacher Nicole Kaufman and Shelby Duma(9) help and encourage Gorgy Jozelji (11) to move the ball into the designated hula hoop. Games like this help Jozelji with enhancing his motor skills.

“Although I love the active part of Adaptive PE, I l just love being around [students], and seeing how happy the students are while in the class,” Kaufman said. “When I see them having fun it just puts a smile straight to my face knowing that they are enjoying themselves.”

Bauman loves adaptive PE because it helps him stay healthy, which is very important to Bauman. His favorite activities that he does in Adaptive PE are burpees and sit-ups. He also enjoys playing games that include baseball, tag, being goalie in hockey and running. 

Some of the students in adaptive PE also participate with their other peers in general PE. But for some, general PE can be difficult for students in Lounsbury and Bastin’s classes. 

“Adaptive PE helps the students have extra time for something where they are the focus,” Bastin said. “[The activities are more] tailored towards them.”

When Brayden Lewis Farver (10) makes his way to the gym during Adaptive PE, he thinks about his friends and how he is going to have “so much fun.” Lewis Farver spends his time in PE doing more cardiovascular physical activity. 

“I just walk on the track, go up and down stairs, and [sometimes I] do stretching with friends,” Lewis Farver said. 

 Not only do the students have a positive effect on Kaufman, but PE also positively affects the students’ lifestyle outside of school. The learning done in the classroom extends into the students everyday routine. After being a part of Adaptive PE, Bauman makes sure to stay healthy outside of class in a variety of ways. 

“I eat apples, bananas and berry smoothies [to stay healthy],” Bauman said. “Me and my dad go on long bike rides very often. Eating healthy and doing my burpees and situps and participating in adaptive PE helps me stay healthy for all my bike rides,” Bauman said. 

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About the Contributor
Joelle King
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.

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