Caymen Winnie had been waiting for this day for weeks. And with the mantle of leadership upon him, he soaked up every moment.
Caymen, a second-grader at La Monte Elementary School, spent Friday’s half-day of school as the physical education teacher for the day, an honor he won by raising the most money in the school’s recent Hoops for Heart campaign to benefit the American Heart Association.
P.E. teacher Drew Burris said students raised $326.25, more than double last year’s inaugural effort of $141.17. Caymen raised $70. When he launched the program this year, Burris told his students there would be a fantastic prize for whoever raised the most money, but he didn’t reveal what it would be.
Three weeks ago when Caymen learned he won and would get to be a teacher for a day, “He wanted to jump in, he was ready to go,” Burris said.
To start the day Friday, Caymen helped Burris monitor the parking lot before school started. As his first class, his fellow second-graders, warmed up in the gym, Caymen pulled out his red plastic whistle to let the students know when to change from walking to running and back again.
For the day’s activity, Caymen chose matball, a hybrid of kickball and dodgeball. He served as the pitcher for both teams, and consistently let the students know how many outs had been recorded and reminded them about the rules of the game.
“You’re out — you’ve gotta keep your shoe on,” he told a classmate whose sneaker traveled farther than the ball he had just kicked.
As class wound to a close, Caymen directed the students to line up.
He called out, “It’s Friday,” and the students responded with an enthusiastic, “Woop, woop!”
He then led them back to the main building, reminding them to “face forward, no talking, look at the hair of the person in front of you.”
As the students got a quick drink of water before returning to class, counselor Nicole Stratton asked them, “How do you like Caymen bossing you around?’
Their reply: “He’s good.”
Next up were fourth-graders, and as they ran past him during the warm-up period, Caymen flashed each student a thumb’s up. As the team at bat inched too close to where the batter stands,
Caymen issued them an extra out for not staying on line behind the light switch on the wall.
One of the offenders shrugged his shoulders and said, “He knows the rules.”
Fourth-grader Victoria Stratton said Caymen did a good job running the class, serving as pitcher and keeping track of outs during the game. She also said if the “teacher for a day” prize is offered again next year, it would entice her to work harder to raise more money for Hoops for Heart.
Fellow fourth-grader Dylan Braxton said it was “pretty cool” that Caymen got to run the show, adding he was “just like Coach (Burris) ... He’s spotting every rule. It’s really cool that he can do that.”
Caymen said his favorite part of the day was “getting to be in charge, getting to do coach stuff.”
Burris was pleased with Caymen’s performance.
“Responsibility is a big thing. These kids love going to P.E., and getting to do that job for a day, I knew, would just be fun,” Burris said. “He did a good job. He was good with discipline, keeping everything under control. Let’s say he rose to the challenge.”
As Caymen and Burris led the first-graders back to the main building, Caymen asked, “Can I get a drink?”
“The kids go first,” Burris replied.
“But I’m a kid,” Caymen said.
Burris smiled and said, “You’re an adult today.”