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Whitworth education alumna wins national P.E. teacher of the year award

June 25, 2012

Whitworth alumna Jessica Shawley, ’03, was named the 2012 National Teacher of the Year for Middle School Physical Education by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). Shawley, who teaches at Moscow Junior High School, in Moscow, Idaho, was selected in 2011 as the Northwest District Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, making her eligible to compete for the national award.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be able to represent our profession,” Shawley says. “This is one of the highest honors in our profession and validates all that I am doing. Being the National Teacher of the Year allows me to share my love for physical education in new ways. I have never felt so blessed and I am so thankful for this opportunity.”

The NASPE honors exemplary elementary, middle, and high school physical education teachers from across the country through its Teacher of the Year Program. To win a teacher of the year award, nominees must prove to conduct a high-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 eight years. During that time she has earned more than $11,000 in grant funding to support the educational efforts of the P.E. department, for which she also serves as department chair. She is a leader on the Staff Wellness and District Coordinated School Health Council, and she is the current board president of the Idaho Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Shawley has a collaborative, mentoring partnership with the University of Idaho’s Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) program and is a mentor-teacher for students in the PETE middle school lab practicum. She also mentors undergraduate student-teachers and she has mentored National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards candidates.

In addition to earning her undergraduate degree at Whitworth, Shawley earned a master’s degree from the University of Idaho and she earned the secondary level physical education specialist certification through the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards. In 2010 Shawley was selected as the Idaho-American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

“As an educator, I believe it is my professional duty to answer the call of physical education reform and demonstrate the positive impact physical education has upon student learning,” Shawley says. “Thus, I strive to provide meaningful content and appropriate instruction, to make learning applicable, to provide a sense of value regarding physical education and to excite students about physical activity and a healthy, active lifestyle.

“I provide a strong foundation based upon best practices. My program promotes a physically active lifestyle by teaching students the value and importance of physical activity and how to apply their new found knowledge about health related fitness. I have found that using more choice-based, student-centered approaches in physical education have yielded the best results for authentic learning.”

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 School of Education,” 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.”

As part of her National Teacher of the Year Award, Shawley will speak to fellow educators across the country and will share her favorite learning activities and curriculum ideas. Her 2012-13 speaking schedule includes engagements in Reston, Va.; Galveston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Wash.; and Charlotte, N.C.

To learn more about Shawley and her many contributions to students’ health and education, and to the profession of physical education, visit Jessica Shawley Award.

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.


Nancy Hines, director of communications, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4638 or