Fraser Valley teacher up for national award
Sky-Hi News contributor
Fraser Valley Elementary physical education teacher Lynn Burrows is heading to Seattle in March for the SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) National Convention and Expo. While she is there, Burrows will find out if she is being named the National Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year.
“I am really excited about going,” said Burrows.
She will attend thanks in part to the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Rotary Club Reba Ferguson Memorial Grant for educators.
Last fall Burrows was nominated for the top elementary physical education teacher in Colorado, which she was awarded on October 17. Her application and additional letters of recommendation went on to the Central Region, comprised of the top P.E. teachers from eight other states including Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming.
After being honored as the best in that region in November, Burrows submitted a video of her teaching and participated in a 45-minute online interview in which she explained her teaching practices and philosophy. Now she just has to wait and see.
Burrows is impressed by the caliber of the teachers in her field who have also been nominated.
“I’m so out of my league. To see my name on this list with those teachers blows me away,” she said.
Dr. James Chamberlin, principal at the Fraser Valley Elementary School, feels Burrows stands out for a number of reasons.
“What sets her apart is her creativity and her collaboration with her colleagues in the building and throughout the district,” he said.
Burrows, who has been a physical educator for over 15 years, has presented numerous times at the state SHAPE conference and has taken a leadership role in the Northwestern Colorado region.
She also uses technology to motivate her students. They track heart rates and levels of exertion to learn about how being active impacts their overall well-being.
Teaching in the mountains of Colorado makes modeling healthy lifestyles natural to Burrows, who originally moved here to coach ski racing.
“Most people who choose to live up here, and for that matter live in Colorado, have made this decision to go for a super-high quality of life. We live the life of people who come here to vacation,” she said.
According to Chamberlin, Burrows sets each student up to succeed, even when learning a complex sport like basketball.
“Her games and activities really set up the scaffolding so the students learn the skills needed. She teaches in a deliberate and explicit instructional way,” said Chamberlin.
If teaching basketball, Burrows breaks down each piece of the game — ball-handling, dribbling, shooting, defense — and finds fun and simple ways to learn the skills before the students put it all together. Building the skills first gives students confidence to play.
Burrows sees her recent recognition as a result of the support she has to do her job, as well as the team with which she works.
“Our district supports physical education and understands how important it is for our students. The administration has said, ‘We value this because it is an important part of developing young children.’ It’s a philosophy based on research that students who are active do better academically,” Burrows said.
At a time when childhood obesity rates are growing and physical education programs are being cut at schools across the country, East Grand School District is an anomaly, providing regular Art, Music, and Physical Education classes to all kindergarten through fifth-graders.
Fraser Valley Elementary School has won the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for three years in a row. Burrows feels that she works with a team of truly dedicated teachers, all of whom are deserving of this kind of award.
“I don’t stand out as an excellent educator here. The teachers I teach with are so far above and beyond. We are all doing our thing to do the best for the students,” she said.
Chamberlin believes Burrows’ achievements reflect well on the whole Fraser Valley Elementary community.
“It’s a huge deal for Fraser Valley Elementary. We have never had a teacher of the year who went on to be recognized regionally. For her to be the top honoree from all those states is impressive.”
More than 5,000 teachers and physical education professionals will attend the National Convention and Expo in Seattle from March 17-21. The National Teachers of the Year will be announced on March 20.
“Recognizing and honoring professional excellence is one of the most important responsibilities SHAPE America has to its members,” said SHAPE America President Dolly Lambdin, Ed.D., in a press release. “That is why we are thrilled to join our districts across the country in highlighting educators whose outstanding teaching performance motivates today’s youth to adopt healthy and physically active lifestyles.”
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