In August we will welcome Blake Willis to the JPII family to teach life skills and weight training. Willis graduated from the College of Health and Human Performance at East Carolina University with a bachelor of science in health fitness specialist, a degree that is endorsed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Prior to attending ECU, Willis joined the United States Army where he passed the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from 2012-2015. He went on two combat deployments to Afghanistan while serving in Ranger Battalion.
In high school, Willis took a class where he was able to visit local schools to help with PE classes. After that experience, he knew teaching was something he was very interested in pursuing. While at ECU, Willis completed an internship at Saint Peter Catholic School where he currently works as a middle school assistant teacher, co-athletic director, and helps coach baseball. It was during his internship at Saint Peter that he became positive that teaching is what he wants to do with his life. “I love working with kids. Watching the students grow in their faith and their education has been such a privilege and something that I hope I can continue to do for many years to come,” he said.
Willis looks forward to getting the kids in weight training excited about working out and staying fit. “Knowing how and what to do to train one’s body can be intimidating. I want to take the intimidation out of the weight room and give all the kids the chance to properly train their bodies because we only get one!” For his life skills classes, Willis plans to lean on lessons learned while in the military. “My time in the military taught me many useful skills, skills I would have never guessed I would use in day-to-day life.” He plans to implement some of what he’s learned and deemed useful from his military experience and incorporate them into his lessons. “Being able to supply students with the knowledge they need to make good choices and succeed is such an awesome feeling. Teachers play a huge role in the lives of children and if I am able to be a role model and help kids grow, that’s an awesome opportunity.”
In addition to life skills and weight training, plans are in the works for Willis to help start a riflery team at JPII. As a member of a special operations unit, marksmanship was important. “We would go to the range almost daily and shoot hundreds to thousands of rounds at a time. Every member must be an expert marksman. I plan to coach and instruct many of the shooting techniques I learned while serving.”
In his free time, Willis loves spending time with his family and dogs, hunting, fishing, working out, and playing men’s softball.