UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
September 26, 2017-- University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate Mandy Stokes has been honored as the Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators (MNSHAPE) Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year for 2017.
Stokes is a 2004 graduate of UW-River Falls. She double majored in K-12 physical education and health education and minored in coaching and is the 32nd recipient of the award. MNSHAPE has honored Minnesota physical education instructors since 1986.
“I’m very surprised,” Stokes said. “I was nominated two years ago and didn’t win, but I’m very excited to have won this time.”
Stokes teaches second through fourth grade students at Burnside Elementary in Red Wing, Minn., and emphasizes the need for students to have fun while in class.
“I try to have fun every day,” she said. “I’m happy that I get to do this job, so it’s fun for me to get the kids excited about learning.”
One way Stokes gets her students in the mood for class is through the Burnside Jump Rope Team, a school jump rope team she created four years ago that has proven extremely popular.
“We started by doing the American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart four years ago and it grew,” Stokes said. “We practice each year for about six to eight weeks and then perform for the students, and we have done halftime shows at games and events.”
Stokes has taught in the Red Wing school district for 12 years.
At UW-River Falls, Stokes was a member of the university’s inaugural women’s hockey team, playing four years for the Falcons before becoming an assistant coach. The program’s annual award for hardest-working player is named for her and she was inducted into the UWRF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
“I loved River Falls,” Stokes said. “I’d go back in a heartbeat. I felt very prepared to do my job when I left. I definitely left UWRF prepared. It’s a great place to be.
To see Stokes’ jump ropers in action, visit bit.ly/BurnsideJumpRope. For more information on the MNSHAPE awards, visit http://www.mnshape.org/mnshape-awards.html.