by Allie Smith

Being a life-long learner and advocating for their fields are two goals of University of West Georgia professors, but one has taken this a step further.  

Dr. Peter Stoepker Dr. Peter Stoepker was recently named a national representative on the Emerging Leaders Innovation Team (ELIT) for the Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE).

SHAPE is a professional organization for physical education teachers, students and university faculty nationwide. Stoepker explains that SHAPE is an important network to be a part of as a physical health educator.

“SHAPE America is a really large network,” said Stoepker, assistant professor of physical education. “It’s important to be a part of that, especially since physical education is not always a top priority in schools. Sometimes you can feel alone within your gymnasium.”  

As one of the first members of ELIT, Stoepker has a responsibility to the organization and the profession as a whole to advocate for physical health educators.

“This is the inaugural year for ELIT,” he explained. “We have to conceptualize different strategic outreach ideas to advocate for our profession and to get undergraduates more affiliated as well.”

Stoepker was nominated for this role by board members of SHAPE and was required to navigate through an extensive application process to provide evidence that he is an active advocate for the field of physical health education.

Stoepker feels very strongly regarding the presence of physical education curriculum in schools and emphasizes the need for these programs.

“Research shows that kids who are more active do better across all disciplines,” he said. “They do better academically, and they do better behaviorally.”

Developing well-rounded students happens in an environment that extends beyond chairs in a classroom, Stoepker explained.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physically active students consistently outperform less active, unfit students academically and demonstrate better classroom behavior. According to its 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 52 percent of U.S. high school students with mostly A’s were physically active for at least 60 minutes per day on five or more days, compared to 38 percent of students with mostly D/F’s.

Not only is this new role allowing Stoepker to be involved in the professional development of others, it is also offering him a new perspective to integrate into his role as a College of Education professor.

“This can give my students a look into what it’s like to be a part of a group of great people from a professional development standpoint,” Stoepker concluded. “And to continue to always learn and hone their craft as teachers.”

Posted on November 13, 2019