Award-winning gym teacher knows her field

November 30, 2008|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Kathleen Donaldson has always been physically active.

In high school, she played volleyball and softball and attended college on a softball scholarship.

By the time she earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Western Michigan University in 1998, she understood the value of physical activity and she wanted to teach her students the same lesson.

"I wanted to help make physical activity not just something the children do, but also a part of who they are," said Donaldson, who has been teaching at Edgewood High for the past seven years.

"If they learn to be active as young people, they will continue to be active," she said.

Ten years after she started teaching, Donaldson received the Simon A. McNeely Honor Award.

The award is given by the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education and Recreation to those teachers who have demonstrated active involvement in school and community affairs, along with outstanding service in the field of physical education

For starters, Donaldson and the team of four physical-education teachers she works with at Edgewood High have taught the students about their community, she said.

Recently they took students to the YMCA, she said. And they started a partnership with the Army in which soldiers come twice a month from Aberdeen Proving Ground to work with the students in the team sports class offered at the school.

The program was begun by science teacher John Wallace, who is retired from the military, she said.

Donaldson is an outstanding asset to the physical education program at Edgewood High, said Roy Norris, the department chairman, who has taught at the school for 24 years.

"She knows the field well," Norris said. "She worked diligently this summer to help create the ninth-grade curriculum guide for physical education. And she is just a pleasure to be around and work with."

Her philosophy of teaching centers around fitness, she said. As a teacher of mostly ninth-graders, she offers a fitness-based program that involves incorporating a lot of physical activities, she said.

"I was named coach of the year one year, but this is the first time I have been recognized for my teaching," she said. "I guess they selected me because I am passionate about what I do. And I bring a lot of enthusiasm for being physically fit and active to every class."

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