FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AAPAR Names Catherine Harper Midwest District's Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year
Reston, VA – Catherine M. Harper, physical education and health instructor at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Illinois, has been named the Midwest District Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). Harper 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. Harper's dedication to her students, passion for her profession, and admiration of her peers and administrators exemplifies what this prestigious national award represents.
For more than thirty years, Harper has taught physical education and health at A.A. Stagg High School, where she initiated P.E.O.P.E.L, the Physical Education Opportunity Program for the Exceptional Learner. P.E.O.P.E.L is an intensive program that teaches able-bodied high school juniors and seniors how to mentor their peers with special needs. Students foster involvement and skill development in a range of physical activities and social skills. Many of Harper's ablebodied students have gone on to pursue careers in adapted physical education, therapeutic recreation, and to coach Special Olympics.
Harper, herself, was the head athletics coach for Team Illinois in the Special Olympics World Games in 1999, assistant athletics coach for the Great Lakes Region Special Olympics World Games in 2003, and head athletics coach for Team USA in the Special Olympics World Games in 2007 in Shanghai.
"Cathy's ability to motivate individuals through her genuine concern for their needs and the common goal of achieving team success has enhanced her success as a coach," Tracy Hilliard, vice president of Sports, Training, and Competition for Special Olympics Illinois, said. "Her positive attitude and strong work ethic inspires others…and motivates athletes."
Parents of special needs children who have had Harper as a coach effuse praise, admiration, and gratitude for her dedication to her students, noting how she makes sure all get a chance to play and that "they know they are valued team members." "We celebrate and reward students who demonstrate their respect for others by cheering for a good performance for all, teammates and opponents," Harper says. "My hope for all of our students is to leave every class feeling positive and filled with self-satisfaction."
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