PEPI students work with a class of their preferred age group from kindergarten to third grade at Leesville Elementary and with Special Education. Students are assigned in groups of two or three and stay for 30 minutes per visit.
To apply, one must write an essay, have a 3.5 GPA, no prior suspensions, a letter of recommendation and a review by past high school teachers. Coach Tadlock accepts about 20 of 60-80 applicants.
Emily Gottlieb, junior, said, “It’s a fun class, and you get great interaction with kids. It tests your patience, creates a positive attitude and has made me a better person.” She explained that she heard about the class through morning announcements and her current PEPI partner, Cooper Paiva.
Paiva, also a junior, agreed with Gottlieb that being a PEPI student teaches you “to be more patient with everyone” and also a “better teacher.” As a senior, his brother took the class and encouraged Paiva to take it.
The partners introduce games to the class that any elementary school student would play in P.E. The same games are also applied in the special classes but incorporate more of a “social competence aspect” for the students.
“We play games like ‘cat and mouse’ and ‘polydots’ with the regular classes. But with the other class, we play with things like scarves, where you throw up the scarf and say ‘catch it on your arm’ or ‘on your foot’… Things like that,” Pavia explained.
Both Gottlieb and Paiva encourage upperclassmen to take PEPI. Whether you hope to work with children in the future or not, it is a great way to give back to Leesville community.