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Local teacher, coach receives 2017 statewide recognition

Powell High School Physical Education instructor Charli Fluty has been named the 2017 Wyoming Physical Education Instructor of the Year by the Wyoming Association for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Powell High School Physical Education instructor Charli Fluty has been named the 2017 Wyoming Physical Education Instructor of the Year by the Wyoming Association for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Photo courtesy Greg Wise

PHS’s Charli Fluty named Wyoming’s PE Instructor of the Year

Charli Fluty knew from an early age that if she could make a career out of being in the gym, that’s exactly what she wanted to do.

Now a physical education instructor at Powell High School and a volleyball coach at Powell Middle School, Fluty was recently recognized for her efforts. Currently in her sixth year at PHS, Fluty was named the Wyoming Physical Education Instructor of the Year by the Wyoming Association for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She was presented with the award at the 2017 WAHPERD convention in Cheyenne in November.

“To have a teacher recognized by his or her peers is a tremendous honor,” said PHS Principal Jim Kuhn. “To have Charli [Fluty] receive this award not only is a personal honor for her, but it also reflects that our school and district encourage our staff to be innovative and willing to take risks. I’m very proud to have Charli on our staff.”

A fixture in the gym for as long as she can remember, Fluty starred on the volleyball and basketball courts at Saratoga High School. As an undergraduate at the University of Wyoming, she reinforced her desire to educate, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health endorsement. She came to Powell right out of college in 2011, hired as a PE teacher and coach.

“I just loved the idea of being in the gym,” Fluty said of her career path. “I always knew I wanted to be around kids, and my favorite place to be when I was in school was in the gym, whether it was PE, or practice, or whatever. Once I realized teaching PE could be a career, it seemed silly that I even looked at anything else.”

Fluty has been a part of the local sports teams since her arrival in Powell, including as an assistant volleyball coach at PHS under former head coach Cindi Smith. As part of Smith’s staff, Fluty helped guide the Lady Panthers to the Class 3A state title in 2013, and was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Wyoming Coaches Association in the process. After four years as an assistant, Fluty is now a volleyball coach at Powell Middle School.

“I have a 2-year-old, so coaching at the middle school is a lot easier schedule-wise; it’s more doable for us,” Fluty explained. “I love coaching, so this is the way I can still do it.”

And does Fluty approach coaching differently than as a teacher?

“It’s the same,” Fluty said. “Teaching is coaching, coaching is teaching.”

Fluty said she was surprised when she learned she’d been named PE Instructor of the Year, as she was unaware she’d even been nominated. In his nomination letter to the selection committee, Kuhn called Fluty “a dynamic teacher,” and offered praise for her ability to find ways to “encourage and engage students in physical education and health.”

“I have worked with Charli during the last five years as the principal of Powell High School,” Kuhn wrote. “I would put Charli at the top of my list as an innovative and inventive instructor. Whether it’s looking at better ways to teach or measure physical education standards, use technology or team teach a physical education class so students have a greater selection of activities to learn standards, Charli is a driving force in our school.”

High praise to be sure, but Fluty waves off such flattery as all in a day’s work.

“I love what I do, and that’s something that my parents instilled in me early,” she said. “They said, ‘Find something that you love to do. If you’re going to be doing it every day of your life, you might as well enjoy it.’ As long as I continue to love teaching, that’s what I’m going to do.”

As for the most gratifying aspect of her job, Fluty said it’s watching the kids learn and grow into young adults.

“Just being around the kids, I just really enjoy that,” she explained. “The cooperation that happens in working with my co-workers and our PE department is just really fantastic when you look at K-12. We have some really great people, and I love that, as well.”

As for her award, Fluty is honored, but remains decidedly pragmatic on its significance.

“The award is great, and it feels good to be recognized for the things that I do,” she said. “At the same time it was hard [to accept], because I do love my job. That’s why I do it. It’s cool to get, but it’s not really going to change anything; I just love my job, and I’ll continue to do what I do regardless.”

As for now, Fluty will continue doing what she loves in Powell, to the appreciation of Park County School District No. 1. That appreciation, according to Fluty, definitely goes both ways.

“Powell is awesome, it’s such a great place,” she said. “The school district is wonderful, the people are so welcoming, we just love Powell. My husband Kyle had never been north of Riverton, really, but agreed to move here not knowing a whole heck of a lot about it. He loves Powell as much or more than I do. We’ve found some of our best friends up here.”

“It’s been great,” she said.

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