FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AAPAR Names Donna Schaefer Northwest District’s Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year
Reston, VA – Donna L. Schaefer, adapted physical education specialist in the Evergreen School District, Vancouver, Washington, has been named Northwest District Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). Schaefer was honored at a breakfast on April 2 at AAHPERD's Annual Convention in Tampa, Florida.
The breakfast was hosted by the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR), a national association of AAHPERD, and sponsored by Sportime, an equipment distributor for sport and game equipment. AAPAR's Adapted Physical Activity Council administers the award in recognition of America's top adapted physical educators. Schaefer's dedication to her students, passion for her profession, and admiration of her peers and administrators exemplifies what this prestigious national award represents.
Schaefer has been a teacher for more than thirty years, starting her service in both middle and high school in Tenino, Washington. Since 1978 she has been an adapted physical education specialist in the Evergreen School District. She started a school-based Special Olympics program and has been a Special Olympics coach in volleyball, basketball, and track. For thirty years she's been involved in the Clark County Challenge Games for people with disabilities, and she designed an accessible playground for Hearthwood Elementary School in Vancouver.
Colleague and occupational therapist Donna Wehrley describes Schaefer as having a "can-do attitude [that] enables her students to participate in activities that many others would consider not worth the effort… or beyond the student's abilities."
Schaefer also inspires area Boy Scouts to earn their Eagle Scout badges by creating adapted bikes, balance boards, scooters, and other adapted gear that allow students with disabilities to participate in recreational activities. In addition, her students have set a Guinness Book World Record two years in a row for "sport stacking."
Schafer started her career before Title IX was implemented, yet she set out to develop sports programs that included girls, "not just boys and the top athletes," she says. Once that mission was accomplished, her next goal was "to start getting students with intellectual and physical abilities the same kinds of opportunities to participate in sports." Schaefer has accomplished that goal and more over the years.
Presented annually, the Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year (TOY) award has been offered at the national level since 1995. In 2000 AAPAR's Adapted Physical Activity Council recognized the work of outstanding physical education teachers at the AAHPERD District level, with Sportime co-sponsoring the award. Teachers must submit an extensive application portfolio, including letters of recommendation from colleagues, supervisors, and parents as well as a video of their teaching.
AAPAR Communications Coordinator