Radford University welcomes physical education professionals and students for 10th annual VAHPERD workshop
Rose Houk is always amazed by the number of health and physical education teachers who gather at Radford University every September to run, jump, play and become students for a day.
“We bring all our physical education teachers here to Radford for this every year,” said Houk, a veteran educator of 37 years, who now teaches at Galax Elementary School. “This is a wonderful outreach by the university and a tremendous opportunity for teachers in Virginia.”
Houk, taking a breather from the morning activities, was referring to the regional Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD) workshop happening at Radford University’s Peters Hall gymnasium.
The workshop is designed to offer professional development to physical education and health educators from around Virginia and provide undergraduate students an opportunity to learn from veteran teachers.
It was the tenth year the university’s Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) has hosted the event with VAHPERD, a professional organization for educators.
“Over the course of the past decade, we have tried to provide quality professional development to physical and health education teachers and connect attendance to membership in their state association,” said HHP faculty member and workshop organizer Steve Shelton. “For many of our attendees, this might be their only professional development opportunity for the year so it’s extremely important that we provide the best experience possible.”
The year’s workshop offered a few new variations of previous gatherings. Feedback from past participants, Shelton said, asked for activities related to technology use, active gaming in physical education, dance-related activities and activities for students with disabilities.
“Thus, we invited three very accomplished presenters with expertise in those areas,” Shelton said. “The information they shared with us was outstanding.”
Lisa Witherspoon, an international expert on technology-driven games and exercises, was one of the presenters. She taught a session to help attendees use technology more effectively in their classes.
Meredith Morton, who is nationally certified in adaptive education, spoke about including students with disabilities in P.E. Physical, health and dance education teacher Annie Machamer offered fun, energetic sessions about incorporating dance into classroom settings.
“I think providing attendees with multiple topics throughout the day allowed everyone to select sessions that were applicable to their teaching interests and needs,” Shelton said. “The presenters were outstanding and they provided our participants with outstanding ideas and resources that I hope can be used immediately once these teachers return to their schools.”
More than 180 current and future educators participated in this year’s workshop. That number includes 134 professionals, 48 of whom were Radford University alumni.
One of those was April Moore ’98, who has been attending the workshop each year and always leaves with “great information I can take back to my students,” the Dublin Elementary School teacher said. “My students love everything I bring back. It’s always something new for them. They look forward to me coming here so I can bring back new ideas.”
Almost 50 of this years’ participants were college students. The majority of those were from the Radford HHP program and few others came from Emory & Henry College and Averett University.
Among the Radford University students participating was Jenny Dunford, a junior health and physical education major from Chesterfield. It was the second consecutive year at the workshop for Dunford who attended, partly, “because of the technology teaching component offered,” she said.
Radford University students are able to join VAHPERD for $15. Membership provides such benefits as the ability to attend the state VAHPERD convention in Roanoke.
“Radford University has put on a class act for P.E. teachers with this workshop. Every year, we leave here with a revived energy to go back and take what we have learned to our P.E. classes,” Houk said. “The Radford University professors do an amazing job with this conference. This workshop is huge for all of us.”