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Beyond Fitness Basics: Teacher Honored for Comprehensive Program

Physical fitness isn’t important just forathletes. That philosophy drives Todd Johnston’s physical education program at Kenowa Hills High School, and recently won him recognition from a statewide organization.

The longtime KHHS instructor has been honored as Michigan’s High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Johnston, in his 15th year at Kenowa, received the designation from the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. The Lansing-based agency advocates for school, community and national programs that promote health and physical education.

Johnston oversees the PEAK (Physical Education at Kenowa Hills) Performance program, an elective that enables students to work on individual strength, conditioning and well-being. Johnston brought the program to Kenowa from East Kentwood High School, where he taught for five years. Besides aiding student athletes, the PEAK program aims to improve all students’ academic achievement.Todd Johnston was named Michigan’s physical education teacher of the year

“Research has clearly shown that cognitive functioning and academic achievement is positively correlated with intense, vigorous exercise,” Johnston says.

He coordinated the installation last year of neck-strengthening machines designed to reduce the chance of concussion among student athletes. Over the summer he oversaw a community fitness program and renovations to the school weight room.

Johnston hopes his award will draw attention to some of the district’s innovations in fitness.

“It can also help to continue to advocate for quality physical education and the impact that we can have in educating the whole student,” Johnston says.  “It’s not just about fitness (although that is critically important) but what a pursuit of fitness can do for a student’s entire educational experience.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio

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