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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
National Association for Sport and Physical Education to Honor Southgate Community Schools' Ruth Kemp with First Unsung Hero Award
RESTON, VA, March 11, 2010 – Athletic director, academic advisor and physical education teacher Ruth Kemp of the Southgate Community Schools District will receive the first Unsung Hero Award from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) during the week-long national convention of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).
This honor will be presented at the NASPE Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, March 19, at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. Other honorees that evening include the National Physical Education Teachers of the Year for Elementary, Middle and High School, the National Physical Education Administrator of the Year as well as the Athletic Director of the Year. The banquet is sponsored by Playworld Systems®, the leader in outdoor commercial playground equipment and the creator of ENERGI™ Total Body Fitness System.
Sponsored by the NASPE Past Presidents' Circle, the award is in recognition of a physical education teacher or sport coach from the district co-hosting the convention who has gone the extra mile to support youth. In appreciation for all that this person has contributed, the individual is invited to participate in the 125th annual convention of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), as the guest of the NASPE Past Presidents. Along with her award, Kemp will receive a one-year membership to NASPE/AAHPERD as well as travel, accommodations and registration to attend the convention.
"The greatest rewards for me come from working with those students that struggle to achieve a specific skill and finally master it," Kemp said. "Those are the ones you remember." NASPE Past President Fran Cleland stated, "By reviewing her contributions, it is obvious that Ruth Kemp has been the driving force behind the success of the Southgate Adult and Community Education (SACE) alternative high school's physical education program. The NASPE Past Presidents are thrilled that we are able to recognize one hero who is clearly making a difference in students' present and future lives."
SACE's alternative high school, the Advantage Academy, serves at-risk youth who need a second chance to earn their high school diplomas and to learn how to establish healthy and positive relationships with their peers.
According to Academic Advisor Melanie Holland who nominated Kemp for the recognition, "Ruth's passion and dedication has reshaped the educational experience at our school. She strives to give our students as many diverse, unique and life-enriching experiences as possible through her innovative ideas, constant networking, and searching and applying for grants. She does not let anything stand in the way of her vision or goals for the students in our program, and she constantly goes above and beyond her job expectations to further the opportunities that our program offers the students."
Michigan's at-risk, alternative high school student population has been rapidly increasing over the last decade. In 1996, SACE realized the importance of these students having an "alternative" way to earn their high school diplomas. The Advantage Academy operates as a school of choice, currently enrolling 675 students, ages 16-19, from 23 surrounding school districts.
Thanks to the efforts of dedicated staff members like Ruth Kemp, the dropout rate in both Southgate and the region has decreased because students have a second chance to accomplish their goals and improve their futures.
While creating the new physical education program, Kemp strived to meet all Michigan Merit Curriculum guidelines and Michigan high school graduation requirements. By using community resources and connections to real-life role models, Kemp's Golf and Fitness Program gives at-risk youth the opportunity to participate in a sport that most would not have access to due to economic reasons or lack of available resources. Kemp also helped create a positive relationship between the students and the city's Police Department by having them golf together.
In addition to securing grants from the United States Golf Association as well as the PGA of America Growth of the Game Grant, she encouraged members of the community to donate equipment. Students enrolled in the program also have the opportunity to play free of charge at two local golf courses. In 2009 the Golf and Fitness Program won its most recent award, the Best of the Best Award by the Michigan Association of School Boards.
Kemp was named the Southgate Community School District's Employee of the Year in 2007. She serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Alternative Athletic Association and the Michigan Association of Community and Adult Education, as well as the association's governmental affairs committee.
Consistently working on new projects to enrich the athletic program, Kemp is now trying to develop a softball/baseball diamond behind the school and is working with the grant administrator to apply for grants and get volunteers to help with fundraising. Their goal is to host tournaments and competitions with other alternative schools across the state.
"I am currently working with our staff on the Asher Field of Dreams project," she said. "The school has a physical education department as well as an after-school athletic program, yet it has no outdoor facilities whatsoever. Our at-risk youth deserve a space of their own to foster their athletic abilities and passions."
Society of Health and Physical Educators