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Whitworth education alumna wins P.E. teacher of the year award for Northwest region

August 5, 2011
Whitworth alumna Jessica Shawley, '03, has been named both the Idaho and Northwest District Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Shawley, who teaches at Moscow Junior High School, was nominated by her peers and honored with the state award in October 2010, and selected for the Northwest District award (encompassing Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana) in April. She now will compete for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced at the annual convention for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), to be held in Boston in 2012.

"Winning the Teacher of the Year award is still a very surreal experience," Shawley says. "I'm very honored and thankful to be representing my profession in such a manner, and I feel this award also carries with it a sense of responsibility and accountability, which can only make me a better teacher."

To win a teacher of the year award with the NASPE, an applicant must prove to conduct a quality physical education program; utilize various teaching methodologies and plan innovative learning experiences to meet the needs of all students; serve as a positive role model; participate in professional development opportunities; and provide service to the profession.

Shawley, who majored in health, fitness and physical education at Whitworth, has taught P.E. at Moscow Junior High for the past seven years. During that time she has earned more than $9,000 in grant funding to support the educational efforts of the P.E. department, bringing in heart rate monitors, pedometers, and recreational equipment. She volunteers for several committees, including a new staff wellness initiative through collaborative efforts with the University of Idaho. She also serves as a mentor teacher to University of Idaho students because she wants to help prepare the next generation of teachers.

"Jessica enjoys using the spirit of teamwork to get things accomplished," wrote a colleague in one of her nomination letters. "She continually brings in new ideas, seeks input from others, and is quick to incorporate ideas in order to make the school and district a better place for students, staff, and the community."

In addition to earning her undergraduate degree at Whitworth, Shawley holds a master's degree from the University of Idaho and recently earned the secondary level physical education specialist certification through the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards.

Shawley says she gives her students a lot of personal and social responsibility in her classroom; students are in charge of running their own warm-up routines and help with attendance, they choose their activities and have specific learning goals. She says her P.E. program provides students the opportunity to experience many traditional and non-traditional activities and sports, as well as emphasizes personal fitness and what they can do outside of school to enjoy physical activity and maintain their fitness levels.

Shawley says her favorite part of her job is making connections with students and helping show them the importance of a healthy and physically active lifestyle.

"There's nothing better than a student's big smile or look of increased self-esteem because they "did it," they accomplished something they never thought they could," she says. "In the midst of all that is happening in education, along with the current health statistics and obesity rate for our nation, I will continue to fight for the well being of my students."

Shawley says her Whitworth education prepared her for her career by allowing her the opportunity to grow in a positive and challenging environment. She credits her professors, softball coaches, and the variety of campus life activities with providing an educational experience that pushed her to build a solid foundation both academically and personally.

"From the moment I entered my teaching career, no task or challenge was impossible, and I know that's because of the high expectations and preparation I received from the Whitworth education department," she says. "I'm glad I decided to embrace my studies, internships and practicum experiences wholeheartedly, and I'm proud to be part of the Whitworth family."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or