She’s No. 1. And with good reason.

Sayville gym teacher Elizabeth “Beth” Bolger — a powerful advocate for fitness and overall wellness among young people — received the 2019 New York State Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award from the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (NYS AHPERD).

The extremely competitive award honors individuals for excellence in teaching and overall performance in physical education at the elementary, middle and secondary levels; adapted physical education; health education; and dance education.

“I was shocked and humbled. The news of the award brought me to tears,” said Bolger, a physical education teacher for 13 years in the Sayville School District. “All the past recipients are people I have long admired. I feel blessed to work at a job I love so much.”

Bolger, who teaches at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School and is an assistant coach for Sayville girls’ varsity soccer, ensures her students are active 95% of each class by using games, tools and activities to cater to each individual student’s fitness level, according to a statement from the award presenter.

Bolger received the award during NYS AHPERD’s annual convention at the Turning Stone Convention Center in Verona, New York. She was accompanied by her husband Tom, Sayville Superintendent John Stimmel, Athletic Director Dennis Maloney, and Sayville Board of Education Trustee James Bertsch Jr.

“I was honored that they made the six-hour trip to share in my achievement,” said Bolger, who was NYS AHPERD Suffolk Zone’s Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2017-18 and the 2016 American Heart Association (AHA) Suffolk Zone Coordinator of the Year.

Bolger has implemented an “Abilities Awareness” curriculum to educate students about those with special abilities. She advocates for a culture of movement and created “movement and mindfulness hallways” that have become the standard in Sayville schools.

She created and coordinates the Suffolk Zone Fit Club competition, which hosts over 1,000 athletes and coaches from 31 schools. Her videos have taken top honors in the Get Moving NY contests.

Bertsch called Bolger “a game changer of a human being,” adding that she “conveys unswerving confidence in her students and asks them to achieve what they had considered impossible.”

Elizabeth “Beth” Bolger with Sayville schools Board of Education Trustee James Bertsch.

“In doing so, she pays her students the ultimate respect: she believes in them,” he said. “And this helps them believe in themselves.”

Bolger’s many other accomplishments and contributions are listed here: