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From running track to a career in officiating, teacher Patty Rouse’s life is a race she likes running.
She started in track and field as a fifth-grader in Fleming County. Before her family moved to Kentucky, she was raised on chicken farms in Arkansas. In Arkansas she participated in barrel racing and horseback riding.
After attending college at University of Louisville, where she met her husband, Scott, she coached track and cross country in Taylor County. She’s in her eighth year of teaching special education and coaching girls’ basketball at East Hardin Middle School.
She also is a track and field official for the Kentucky Association of USA Track and Field and is contracted at the collegiate level for indoor and outdoor track with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Officiating keeps her traveling all over the country.
Through track this year, she was named Kentucky High School Track Official of the Year, only the second woman to be awarded that distinction, she said. Over the years she’s also won the National President’s Award through USA Track and Field and the Kentucky President’s Award. USA Track and Field is the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States, according to its website.
Those involved in the sport have showed her competing in track and field helps personal growth. A competitor might finish last, but still can improve on his or her best time and that builds confidence, she said.
Rouse wanted to grow up to be like some of her mentors with whom she now officiates and to give back what they gave to her.
She’s seen kids who started track in elementary school continue through college and receive financial aid through track and field, she said.
Her family still goes to sporting events to watch kids in the area who have graduated.
Rouse’s husband, Scott, a teacher at Central Hardin High School and an athletic trainer with Hardin Memorial Hospital, recognizes the opportunities track has offered to Rouse.
“Being a nationally certified official for track and cross country also allows her to be around some of the elite athletes in the nation,” he said.
He noted that Rouse is one of three starters in the nation contracted through the ACC for championship events in track.
But Rouse’s life is about more than athletics. Her teaching career is focused on students with special needs.
“She has been teaching special education in Taylor and Hardin Counties for 18 years and enjoys working and helping her students,” Scott said.
Rouse’s brother was “severely and profoundly disabled from birth,” she said. As a Girl Scout in fifth grade, when asked about a future career, she said she wanted to be a special education teacher when she grew up.
“All of those kids are very special and you have to have a passion and a drive to continue to teach those children,” she said. “They are capable of learning no matter what level you are at.”
Every person can learn, especially right from wrong, she said. The trick is finding out what motivates a person to recall that information. Set expectations and set short-term goals. And when those goals are met, work on the long-term goals, she said.
She not only loves teaching special needs students but also teaching at the middle school level.
“Most people see a middle school and keep driving,” she joked, adding she loves the age group.
Her life, Scott said, has always been dedicated to helping others.
“Whether it be in the classroom, at home, on the basketball court or the track and cross country venues, she is always willing to help others,” he said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to know Patty Rouse:
Favorite movies: “Dirty Dancing” and “The Notebook”
Books: Romance books
The best place to find her: At a sporting event. Even when the family is not working at or participating in an event they are usually watching some sort of sport.
Favorite teams: She usually follows ACC schools she’s worked with, baseball at University of Louisville and the Louisville Bats. She mainly follows local athletes playing at the college level.
Pet: Black Lab named Sasha
Church: Valley Creek Baptist Church
Hobbies: Gardening, landscaping, making homemade candy and water sports in the summer
Family: Husband, Scott; son, Justin; and many friends in the area who have become like family.