To Matthew Mixer, physical education is not just about improving your shot in basketball or shortening your mile time. To the Horizon Community Learning Center's elementary physical education teacher, it is about having fun but it is also about preparing mentally and socially for the challenges ahead.
For his efforts in teaching physical education, Mixer was named the Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
"It's an honor," he said. "I'm humbled."
Mixer, who was nominated by a colleague, received the award Oct. 21 at the 79th Annual AzAHPERD State Convention in downtown Phoenix.
He described his teaching style and strategy to motivate his students as instructing them in a way they can realize what they are doing physically and how it helps.
"Our goal, in the end, is to have a child manage his or her own physical fitness," Mixer said. "We want to act as more of a guide than a teacher. We work with the physical aspect and the cognitive aspect so that students understand why they are doing what they are doing."
Mixer has taught at HCLC since 1998 and overall has taught physical education for 25 years.
"The real credit is here at Horizon with my fellow teachers, the administration, the parents and the students," he said. "They really understand they are developing a healthy mind set for the future."
HCLC primary school principal Laura Wanstreet said in an e-mail: "This award is quite an honor for Matt and we are very proud of him. He is an amazing physical education teacher and a member of an amazing physical education team at HCLC. Our students are so fortunate to have daily physical education and I know they are developing a healthy mind set for a lifetime of fitness."