Physical education workshop comes to campus
Jesse Witt is fired up.
"I get to work with kids and make an impact on their lives," said the Radford University senior physical education major from Roanoke.
Witt was only 90 minutes into the VAHPERD (Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) workshop Sept. 25, but already had learned a lot about "how to be the best teacher I can be," he said.
About 130 health and physical education professionals from regional K-12 schools and a group of RU physical and health education teaching majors participated in the workshop, which has been held in Radford University's Peters Hall gym since 2007. VAHPERD is the professional organization for health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport educators.
This year, nationally known educator Chip Candy led the day-long workshop. Candy has been teaching K-8 health, wellness and physical education in New Jersey's Medford Township School District for more than 36 years.
"Our students get excited about the workshop because they walk into the gym and see someone who's been teaching 36 years crawling across the floor pretending to be an animal – because that's a cool way to teach a particular skill," said Radford University Health and Human Performance Instructor Steve Shelton, the event's organizer. "That teaching veteran is just as enthusiastic about it as they were in their first year. Our students get to see teachers of all experience levels and get great ideas for teaching."
Sadie Steele, a senior physical education major from Stuart, attended the conference – not only because the $15 she paid gets her a one-year membership into VAHPERD – but also to soak in knowledge and some brilliant teacher education instruction as she prepares for student teaching and a career as a physical education teacher.
"This is a great way to get teaching ideas," Steele said. "It's cool to see everyone come together and have a passion to teach."
Several Radford students participated in the workshop, as did students and instructors from Emory & Henry College, Eastern Mennonite University and Averett University.
However, most of the participants were teaching professionals – many were repeat attenders – who came to the workshop to learn additional practices to install into their daily curricula.
"Coming here rejuvenates you and gives you new ideas," said Jason Murray '06, who teaches at Masons Cove Elementary in Salem. "I get a lot of great ideas, and you know it's a success when you teach these ideas to your kids and they are begging to do it again and again."
Shawn Fortner, a teacher at Cave Spring Elementary School, agreed. "It's relevant to what we do. It's good stuff."
In addition to the knowledge gained, the comradery among colleagues brings many other back to the workshop.
"It has a community feel, and we come back every year and reconnect," Fortner said. "It's a fantastic workshop and we love coming to Radford."