Teacher transforms garage into gym for virtual classes with special needs students

AUBURN, Calif. (KOVR/CNN) - The coronavirus pandemic changed how schools operate with students now learning via virtual classrooms. For one California physical education teacher, it meant getting creative by transforming his garage into a gym.

Jared Sellers, an adaptive PE teacher for the Auburn Unified School District in California, renovated his garage into a home gym for virtual classes. He says it cost him around $1,500 of his own money, buying equipment, flooring and adding a new drain so the garage wouldn’t flood if it rained.

“I looked at my garage, and it was a bit of a mess. I knew that I could transform it into a space where I could still teach students. It was a process, and it took a village to put it together,” Sellers said.

That effort all went toward making online lessons for his students, who need help with motor learning skills, feel as in-person as possible. For students like Paloma and Vanessa Clark, the classes mean a lot, their mother says.

“I do get choked up to see the look on their face that they saw him because they felt so disconnected, and... it’s hard to explain to them exactly what was going on and why they weren’t able to go to school,” mother Renee Clark said.

Making virtual gym classes work during the coronavirus pandemic may have taken money, sweat and, occasionally, help from Sellers’ own kids, but the teacher says it’s all been worth it.

“It’s a very meaningful way to spend my time, and to see the improvements with the kids is second to none. So, I’m definitely willing to go out of my way to improve a little garage space and learn some new technology if it can make a difference in the kids’ lives,” he said.

Sellers says he’s still working with the school district on how his lessons will look when the new school year starts up. For future in-person lessons, they would have to review and implement all the recommendations coming down from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2020 KOVR, Jared Sellers via CNN. All rights reserved.