Clermont Northeastern Elementary School Dean of Students and physical education teacher Val Davis has received the 2006 Elementary Physical Educator of the Year Award.
The award, which is presented annually by the Ohio Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (OAHPERD), is bestowed upon an individual, nominated and voted on by peers, who is recognized as an outstanding educator and innovative leader in the area of physical education.
“The recognition is very nice,” she said. “Being rewarded for something that I love to do makes me very proud. I absolutely love my job. Teaching gym is very rewarding because I get to help these kids develop physically and mentally. I am very proud of the award and happy about it, but my main reward is educating our future leaders and watching them grow into successful adults.”
Davis, a Loveland resident, has done extensive research and study on motor sensory learning and has developed daily activities designed to promote brain stimulation.
This motor sensory approach to physical education, which Davis says prepares the brain for learning, is designed to help the brain overcome any integration or balance problems.
"If brain integration and balance are not properly operating, it is very difficult for a child to learn. Teachers have told me that there has been a noticeable improvement in their classrooms as a result of incorporating this approach into the physical education of our students."
Davis, who was born in Texas and grew up in Van Wert, Ohio, has been a physical education teacher for 25 years. She received a Bachelor of Science from the College of Mount St. Joseph and a Master's in Education from Northern Kentucky University.
Davis has taught physical education for the CNE school district for the past 26 years; she is currently the physical education teacher and the dean of students at the primary school.
In addition to developing a motor sensory approach to physical education, which Davis hopes will someday be a universally adopted model, she also has her students simulate different disabilities to help them understand the differences in people and to develop empathy for those that do have special needs.
"We have put our kids in wheelchairs, smeared vaseline on eyeglasses to simulate vision problems, secured (tied down) arms or legs and tried to played sports, we have even written up paragraphs to resemble what someone dyslexic might see," Davis said. "All of this is designed to show children that just because someone has a disability, that does not mean that there is something wrong with that child. It just means that they may have different needs than their own."
Davis received her award at the OAHPERD state awards banquet in Columbus Nov. 30.
"The banquet was fun," reflects Davis. "It was a fancy affair and very formal. I was happy to be there and accept the award on behalf of the entire school district. It was a very nice evening."