West Virginia Teacher Sprints into the National Spotlight as the National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year

April 09, 2015

Karen Bonnett, National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education today applauded a Raleigh County teacher for earning a national recognition. Karen Bonnett of Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia was recently named National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year (TOY) by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America.

Bonnett has been teaching physical education for more than 30 years at the high school and elementary school levels. The TOY award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance at the high school level and the ability to motivate today's youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

At Woodrow Wilson High School, Bonnett starts off each year with a unit on Ultimate Frisbee so students learn the principle of Spirit of the Game – a term used in that activity – which refers to good sportsmanship, making your own calls and no cheating. This sets the tone for her philosophy of “all for one and one for all,” which means including all teammates and displaying an atmosphere of cooperation.

To adapt her lessons to the needs of individual students, Bonnett has used several strategies. For example, in golf and tennis units, she has practice balls of various types and sizes. Students are encouraged to try several to see what works best for them. The same holds true in the basketball unit, where she even has balls with handprints to aid in shooting for those students who don’t want to use a regulation-size basketball.

As her school’s wellness coach, Bonnett promotes movement among all students, teachers and staff. Over the years, she has organized yoga, Zumba and dance classes, as well as a community health fair and 5K run.


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