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PE Teacher Honored for Boosting Student Wellness


Teaching students the importance of exercise and healthy eating is part of every physical education teacher’s job. One phys. ed. teacher, however, went beyond the standard curriculum. In the process, she helped change the lives of her students.

Doris Dorr of Toppenish High School in Toppenish, WA, will receive the Unsung Hero for Youth Award from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) for leading a successful after-school weight loss program which has helped obese girls gain confidence, poise and self-assurance.

“The greatest rewards for me come from working with my students to help them find their physical self and learn to love physical activity,” Dorr said. “So many of them have gained enough confidence to begin playing a sport, and enjoy passing on this knowledge about healthy living to their families.”

Sponsored by the NASPE Past Presidents Circle, the award is in recognition of a physical education teacher or sport coach who has gone the extra mile to support youth.

“We commend Doris Dorr for the valuable program she has developed to serve at-risk youth at Toppenish High School as well as her contributions at the state level toward the establishment of Health and Fitness Standards and Assessment procedures,” NASPE Past President Fran Cleland said. “The NASPE Past Presidents are thrilled that we are able to recognize one hero who is clearly making a difference in students’ present and future lives.”

Toppenish High School has a poverty rate of 89 percent. Many studies indicate that impoverished youth are more likely than their affluent peers to be obese. Lisa Rakoz, Supervisor of Health and Physical Education for the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction, praised Dorr’s efforts to combat these statistics.

“Doris leads a very successful after-school weight loss program for obese girls where the average weight loss is nearly 70 pounds each year for each girl,” Rakoz said. “Some girls have stayed in the program for two to three years, since most start the program weighing over 300 pounds. To describe her passion and love for children she leads this program as a volunteer effort to give back to her community.”

Dorr teaches students that good health and safety principles can lead to a lifetime of healthy practices, resulting in more productive, active and successful lives. In addition to the two-hour daily after-school workouts, students learn about healthy eating habits by participating in cooking labs that expose them to healthy foods and preparation techniques.

Besides working in her after-school program and maintaining a full-time teaching position, Doris has worked the last five years as a lead instructor and trainer with the development and training of health and fitness assessments for Washington State.  She has also been a leader in the physical education arena presenting on quality physical education at conferences and workshops across Washington State.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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