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Teacher of the Year

Shenandoah University recognized the Sanders Corner physical education and health teacher.

Shenandoah University has named its Teacher of the Year: Barbara Eason, a physical education and health teacher at Sanders Corner Elementary School in Ashburn.

The announcement was made at a School Board meeting Tuesday night. Each year, the university recognizes the contributions of teachers in specialized instructional areas, including special education, art, music, physical education, drama, English as a Second Language and gifted and talented.

"These teachers are often unrecognized, yet they contribute so much," said Kelly Burke, a Loudoun educator and member of the Shenandoah University Northern Virginia Advisory Council.

EASON HAS BEEN a physical education teacher with Loudoun County Public Schools for more than three decades. Kathleen Dugger, another veteran P.E. teacher, said she has known Eason professionally. "She is a very student-centered teacher," Dugger said. "She's pretty innovative, and just always has had a real love for teaching P.E. and getting kids active."

Cindy Stalcup, treasurer of the Sanders Corner Parent Teacher Association, said all five of her children have had Eason as their physical education teacher. "She taught my oldest when she was at Guilford Elementary School," she said. "I think she's wonderful. She moves physical education beyond achievements … to a lifetime learning experience. She always seems to make it fun. She gives it that little extra."

Barb Jones, the PTA vice president, said Eason always has a positive attitude. Her daughter, Caroline Jones, is a first-grader. "She is really nice and she teaches us a lot of fun things," Caroline said.

Kendra Bittle, the PTA secretary, gave the teacher high marks. "She would do anything for the kids."

AT A HEALTH, SAFETY and Wellness Committee meeting of the School Board earlier this month, Eason provided some details about her physical education and health curriculum. To fight the rising problem of obesity, she said she emphasizes the positive aspects of making exercise a life-long habit. She said Sanders Corner has special events, such as family bowling night in the gymnasium and Jump Rope for Heart.

Eason said she uses pedometers as a motivator for her school children. The Loudoun Education Foundation and Washington Post recognized her about five years ago by providing $500 for the Stepping Across Virginia program. The grant paid for pedometers for the students and staff to improve their fitness by counting the number of steps they take while walking, jogging or running. The students and staff improved their fitness by increasing the number of steps they take. The distance they walked took them on a computerized tour of Virginia that provided a review of Standards of Learning testing material.

"Every morning they log in their steps. They get to travel around the state of Virginia," she said. "They also get certificates. One of my heaviest students is the proud recipient our 1,000 steps certificate."

She said the daily log encourages her students to stay active. "We teach them to do exercise for better health … so they can participate throughout their lifetime to stay healthy."

With studies showing inactivity as the main reason behind children's obesity problems, Eason focuses on keeping students moving throughout her 30-minute class. "This could be their only active time all day," she said.

THE FINALISTS were Fawn Phillps and Janet Edens of Potomac Falls High School, Donna Cornett of Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn, Mara Morgan of Horizon Elementary School in Sterling, Linda Greeley of Park View High School, and eight other teachers from the western part of Loudoun County.