Franklin teacher named Southern District Phys Ed Teacher of the Year

Franklin resident Sarah Lowell of Cartoogechaye Elementary School will be honored as the Southern District Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) at its national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 23 – 27. The Southern District represents 13 states from Virginia to Texas. The award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance at the elementary school level and the ability to motivate today’s youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

Lowell, a physical education teacher at Cartoogechaye Elementary School for the past 28 years, will vie with five other district winners for the distinguished honor of National Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. This award is sponsored by NASPE and Sportime, an innovator of equipment and services for physical educators. Lowell is only the second North Carolina elementary physical educator to ever receive this recognition.

The National Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award recipients will be announced on Friday, April 26, at the NASPE Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by Playworld Systems®, a leading manufacturer of imaginative playground equipment and the creator of ENERGI™ Total Body Fitness System.

Lowell believes that, “all students can learn.” She explains “it is my responsibility as a teacher to know and accommodate the different learning styles of students. I make a conscious effort to incorporate a multitude of teaching styles, organizational techniques, and grouping strategies to maximize student achievement while accommodating individual learning styles.”

Lowell is a role model for others physically and professionally. “We owe it to our students and our profession to step up to the plate and be living role examples of what we want for our students. The award winning educator is considered one of the top women arctic ultra-marathon runners in the world. She uses her races to raise funds and awareness for organizations such as Special Olympics, The Challenged Athletes Association, and student’s with cancer. She can often be seen climbing the rope in the gym or exercising and dancing side by side with her students.

Her physical education program is unique because of the emphasis on lifetime skills and activities, obesity prevention, character education and basic skill development. Cartoogechaye students have physical education five days a week for 40 minutes. This amount of time allows Lowell to create and implement programs such as an Outdoor Education program. Students hike different sections of the Appalachian Trail with members of the local Nantahala Hiking Club, learn how to use trekking poles, maps, compasses, GPS units, and how to pack for a day of hiking. She even teaches students about juggling, bicycling, bouldering, fishing and unicycling.

Lowell’s passion and commitment to her students and profession is reflected through the school’s recognition as the recipient of the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NCAAHPERD) Outstanding Physical Education Program as well as the NASPE STARS award. The national award is given to schools that implement best practices in a physical education program.

“Sarah is the best example of an educator who teaches the whole child. Each of her lessons addresses several facets of a child’s learning and development. Last but not least, she is a walking example of how to live a healthy lifestyle, always challenging her own fitness skills and taking them to the next level through daily physical activities. I believe this helps teach students the concept that living a physically active and healthy life in an on-going process, not something that can be achieved in one day,” says Dan Grube, Ph.D., from the WCU School of Teaching and Learning.

Lowell’s honors include two-time NCAAHPERD Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year, two-time Macon County Teacher of the Year, Western Carolina University Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement, and National Board Certification in Early/Middle Childhood.

Her professional affiliations include membership with NASPE and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), NASPE’s umbrella organization, its sister organization, National Dance Association (NDA), the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Lowell received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Physical Education from Western Carolina University.