Pat Hartsoe: past, present, and future life


There are many teachers of interest with fascinating backgrounds here at FHC, one being Pat Hartsoe. Hartsoe has a long history in the Forest Hills community. She started off teaching Physical Education at CMS in the fall of 1980. Starting in 1987, she taught at FHC High School. She started off with many classes in 9th grade, starting with year-long PE.

“I was allowed to create elective classes after a few years,” Hartsoe said. “I had a lot of fun developing a semester class of Step Aerobics, which was very popular in the late 80s and 90s.”

Hartsoe also created the elective called Global Games, as well as starting the Yoga class elective. She was very thrilled and proud to build the yoga program from the first semester containing eleven students, to the approximately 100 students who signed up for Yoga 1 and Yoga 2 her last semester in the spring of 2007. Global Games also expanded from one class of 23 students when she first offered it, to three back-to-back hours of 40 students per class.

“We had great fun playing HurlyBurly (Africa), Netball (Australia), Kin-ball, Broomball (Canada), Eclipse Ball (USA), and Cricket (England), among other international games,” Hartsoe said.

Hartsoe was also the varsity volleyball coach from 1980-1995. It was a very exciting time period for girls’ high school sports. Title IX (giving girls equal access to high school and college athlete opportunities) had passed in 1972, the year Hartsoe graduated from high school. When she started coaching in 1980, they played volleyball in the winter and only had one gym (East Gym). The former coach had to run practice from 6:00 AM-7:30 AM just to get gym time. Hartsoe was unwilling to do that, so they started rotating practice times with the boys’ basketball teams, many times practicing from 7:00 PM-9:30 PM, often at the middle school and even some at different elementary schools.

“I come from an era where we didn’t even have the chance to play on varsity teams,” Hartsoe said. “To put it nicely, girls’ athletics were not taken very seriously back then, rarely had priority over even a boys’ freshman team, and rarely had much of an audience at matches and games. Few people expected opportunities for girls to play in college even.”

Hartsoe later transferred to teaching all health education from 2007 till 2016, when she then retired. She was the only teacher, so she was able to develop her own lesson plans and teaching style without having to adapt or compromise with other teachers. Hartsoe taught five classes per semester for nine years. The curriculum evolved over the years to include topics such as mental/emotional health, safe dating relationships, anti-bullying, and even human trafficking and internet safety.

“I didn’t think I’d like being in a classroom after so many years of gyms, outdoor fields, and courts,” Hartsoe said. “But, I totally enjoyed it.”

After many years here at FHC, Hartsoe decided to retire in 2016. Now she spends her time doing volunteer work with her husband at the Humane Society. She also volunteers at Feeding America West Michigan, which is a food bank that helps get food supplies to needy people. Hartsoe does a lot of bicycling, camping, and visiting family and friends. Currently she has three bicycle tours scheduled for this summer. One in late June, one in early August, and one over Labor Day weekend. Each bicycle tour takes five to seven days to complete. Two of them end up at the Mackinac Bridge, and the other one crosses lower Michigan from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.

“Obviously I love to ride bikes a lot,” Hartsoe said. “I also take a pilates class once a week and take three yoga/stretching classes per week.”

Hartsoe’s goal is to bicycle 3,000 miles per year for a decade of her life. She started when she turned sixty, and she is now on her fourth year.

“I am taking that goal ‘one year at a time,a�� hoping to steer clear of injury as I get older,” Hartsoe said. “That’s part of the reason for all the yoga/stretching and core strengthening. I know that if I can keep pedaling, I will stay happy and hopeful for the future.”

Along with her bicycling goal, Hartsoe and her husband bought a RV last fall and hope to visit all the best national parks in the future. It is clear Hartsoe has a full lifestyle and is still continuing on with her life’s journey. Hartsoe was a key essential to the FHC community and though she is no longer teaching here, she is still considered part of the FHC family.