Hanawalt PE Teacher Earns Statewide Honor for Service
Hanawalt physical education teacher John Baker is a verb. People, places and things are generally classified as nouns, but Baker is a verb. As in active! It’s no wonder he was named this year’s recipient of the Steve France Honor Award by the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD).
The award is given to an individual who is passionate about teaching and demonstrates dedication to service of students and colleagues.
That’s John Baker in a nutshell and has been for many years, as evidenced by IAHPERD’s previous bestowal of the Honor Award on him in 2004. In 2005 he received the organization’s Teacher of the Year Award. Besides those laurels Baker has also served as IAHPERD President (in 1999-2000) and been a tireless advocate for PE as a vital element of child development, regularly running up and down Capitol Hill to buttonhole state legislators. Baker currently serves as IAHERD’s chairperson for legislative affairs.
Baker grew up in Iowa before starting his teaching career in the Pacific Northwest. When he returned to his roots in the mid-1990’s he landed at Hanawalt and has been there ever since. It’s been a win/win for him and the community he serves, one that’s long been known for its emphasis on PE and the arts in addition to what are traditionally considered the core areas of education.
“No one disputes how critical math and reading and science are to kids’ educational development,” Baker said. “But the problems now with childhood obesity demonstrate what I’ve always maintained, that PE is also part of the core. I wish we could find a way for every school day to include time for PE.”
The facilities at Hanawalt now include a new outdoor running track and it will get plenty of traffic at a school that was a charter member of KidStriders when that local youth running program was established in 2006 and has hosted a strong chapter ever since.
“Hanawalt’s been a great place for me,” Baker emphasized. “Parents have always taken an active interest and played active roles in all phases of the teaching and learning here.” Did he say active?
The flashy new track notwithstanding, the most important resources at Hanawalt have been around for quite a while – take Baker for instance, the award-winning PE teacher who’s been going the extra mile for 20 years and counting and seems to just be getting his second wind.