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Top award for advocacy goes to Lander physical education chair

December 09, 2010
Gina Barton
Gina Barton

Gina Barton, chair of Lander University's Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science, has received a prestigious award for promoting quality physical education during her 26-year career as an educator.

The South Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (SCAHPERD) presented Barton its 2010 Honor Award at the organization's recent convention in Myrtle Beach. The citation accompanying the award said she has demonstrated "an outstanding commitment to the individuals she has taught and coached and to the profession in which she has invested so much time, energy and talent."

It also applauded her work as a teacher, mentor and motivator for countless educators in the state.

The former Lander student who nominated her for the award said Barton exemplifies great teaching. "She has taught us valuable teaching skills and the personal attributes that one needs to be a quality physical educator and to impact the lives of the young people we serve." Another Lander student said, "Her passion for teaching is contagious."

Barton joined the Lander faculty in 1999 and, in addition to her administrative duties as department chair, she maintains a full-time teaching schedule during the fall semester.

She has played a leading role in SCAHPERD's efforts to reform physical education programs for all schoolchildren, starting with kindergarteners. "I have a passion for physical education and wanted to be a part of change."

She said South Carolina leads the nation in physical education reform. Other states are interested in learning more about South Carolina's laws requiring school districts to promote physical education and offer developmentally appropriate programs that hold students and teachers accountable for student learning.

Barton said the reform movement has experienced a setback recently because of economic difficulties and budget cuts. But she and others are still preaching the benefits of physical education as part of the overall academic experience. "An increase in activity time increases a student's cognitive ability," she said.

Barton holds a bachelor's degree in education from Abilene Christian University, a master's in exercise studies from the University of Dayton and a doctorate in physical education from the University of South Carolina.

During her career, she has served on a number of committees at the state, district and national levels and has collaborated with teams that are responsible for writing standards and assessments and physical education curriculum guidelines.

Of the Honor Award from SCAHPERD, she said, "I am surprised and very humbled to be among past recipients who I look to as role models." When asked about the testimonials from former students and Lander colleagues, she said, "It is encouraging to know you've made a difference."

Barton is very proud of Lander's physical education teacher education program, which graduates between five and 10 students a year. "In each of the last 10 years, one or more of our graduates have earned awards as the best first-year teacher of the year, district teacher of the year or other teaching honors in South Carolina and elsewhere."

She said Lander's physical education program has a very good reputation.