Pioneer Spotlight: Tim Swenson

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Pioneer Spotlight
March 25, 2016
Tim Swenson

Tim Swenson, lecturer in adapted physical education at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has taught at the university since 2008. He currently teaches Practicum in Adapted PE, Teaching Exceptional Children in Health and PE, Perceptual Motor Learning and Development, Assessment and Screening in PE, Adapted Aquatics, First Aid and Self Defense.

A native of Boscobel, Wisconsin, Swenson received a Bachelor of Science from UW-Platteville in physical education, health and adapted physical education and a Master of Science from UW-La Crosse in Adapted PE. Previous to teaching at UW-Platteville, he taught in the Black River Falls School District in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, for seven years.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Learning about my students, their interests, and using that connection in order to make the class information and experiences more meaningful. As a teacher, you need to be passionate about your subjects and always willing to learn. Students will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Why is it important for your health and human performance students focusing on education to learn adapted PE?

It allows the students to learn many different instructional strategies that can be used with a variety of students. It also teaches them compassion for others who face challenges, patience and goal setting. Lastly, it makes them very marketable and attractive to school districts looking to hire a new teacher.

What hands-on learning opportunities will your students have this semester?

Students in my classes this semester will have many opportunities to work directly with students with various special needs – in the pool within the Adapted Aquatics class and in the physical education setting for Practicum in APE, for example. They will also be involved in the UW-Platteville Home School PE Program as well as the Champion Games, which takes place at the end of the semester.

How do experiential learning activities prepare students for careers and life?

First-hand experiential learning allows students to put theory into practice and helps them understand that what works for one student or class may not always work for another. It gives students insight on the practical side of teaching, which is first developing relationships as well as having a basic understanding of content.

How has community engagement/collaboration contributed to student learning experiences?

Community engagement and collaboration has probably had the biggest impact on my students’ learning. Without community involvement in the various programs and classes, there would not be the incredible experiences available for my students. We are very lucky in Southwest Wisconsin to have so many wonderful schools and teachers who are willing to collaborate and work with us to provide our future teachers these high impact practices.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife Danielle is a special education teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School. We have four kids: Bree (7), Brynn (5), Kinley (3) and Jacoby (1). I coach quite a bit of their sports (soccer, softball, tennis) as well as help coach the high school wrestling team in Mineral Point. 

Interview conducted by Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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