Jeremy Dittrich stands with his oversized check for $999 which he received for winning the 2011 Excellence in Education Teacher of the Year Award. Submitted photo

An Ahwatukee Foothills teacher loves what he does and was recently recognized for it.

Physical education teacher Jeremy Dittrich received the Excellence in Education Teacher of the Year award, sponsored by Rio Salado College and 99.9 KEZ.

Dittrich, who has worked at Kyrene Centennial Middle School for four years, was nominated by a co-worker and won Teacher of the Month for January.

That made him eligible for Teacher of the Year with the other monthly winners and he received the award and a check for $999 at a banquet on May 16.

"It's an awesome award and I was very shocked and honored," Dittrich said. "As a physical education teacher, I just do what I have to do to get kids involved and excited about fitness."

In somewhat of a twist, Dittrich was one teacher who was part of Kyrene's reduction in force. This is the second time it has happened to him but he said it will not deter him from applying again next year.

"I really couldn't see myself doing anything else (besides teaching)," he said.

Dittrich, 31, is a Phoenix native and went to Arizona Lutheran Academy. His post-high school year included stops in Minnesota and Phoenix College before he attended and received his bachelor's degree in physical education (K-12) from Arizona State University.

One of the unique things he does with his students is take them on a 45-minute hike on South Mountain.

"They get really excited about it and can't wait until the next time we go," he said. "I try to teach them that there is more to physical fitness than just running."

In addition to his duties for Kyrene, Dittrich is a coach for the Mountain Pointe High School freshman football team. This summer he will coach the team and train them in weight lifting. He also coaches the girls and boys basketball teams at Centennial.

"It's an awesome job because I get to be active and help kids do the same," he said.

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