Lakeview’s PE teachers’ journeys to recovery

Jennifer Laukonis and Allison Anastas, Staff writers

   Lakeview’s PE teachers Richard Nelson and Sam Herr have been on the road to recovery for the past few months. Since Aug. 8, Nelson has been recovering from a spinal surgery (laminectomy and discectomy). Herr has been recovering from a full right knee replacement since Nov. 22.

   Both Nelson and Herr’s surgeries required them to take time off from teaching. Even though Nelson had his surgery in August, he still had to miss some valuable school time.

   “This surgery caused me to miss six days of school at the beginning of the year,” Nelson recalled.

   Although Herr’s surgery required a month-long recovery, he was only required to miss three weeks of school; he had an extra two-and-a-half weeks at home due to Thanksgiving and Christmas break.

   “I missed three weeks of school from before Thanksgiving to after we got back from Christmas break,” Herr stated.  

   Once they were cleared to come back to work, Nelson and Herr’s physical limitations held them back from teaching sports like they normally would.

   When talking about how his knee replacement affects his teaching, Herr mentioned, “It did with demonstrations. For example, when we started a new unit in handball it was hard for me to show them the proper form.”

   Nelson has very similar struggles that affect his teaching abilities.

   “The spinal surgery causes one side of my back to spasm, which limits my mobility and demonstrations. I try to have other students demonstrate or use pictures. I try not to let it impact my instruction,” Nelson added.

   Outside of work, Nelson has had many obstacles in his everyday life.

   “After a full day of teaching and a long car ride home, my back locks up pretty bad most days. It causes me to miss out on a lot of activities at home. I always try to have a great attitude daily for my students here at Lakeview,” Nelson mentioned.

   Herr’s knee replacement has also kept him from living like he used to.

   “My knee replacement has greatly slowed me down in many aspects of my life, and it makes it harder to do things I normally did before,” Herr summarized.

   Both PE teachers are currently working hard in rehabilitation in order to get back in shape. Nelson’s rehabilitation includes a lot of stretching, yoga, and core building exercises. Herr’s path to recovery involves more strengthening and rebuilding muscles in his leg. 

   Although it will take a lot of hard work, Nelson and Herr’s positive outlook will allow both of them to overcome their obstacles.