Jonathan Mauro, phys-ed teacher at Red Deer’s St. Francis of Assisi Middle School. (Contributed photo).

Red Deer gym teacher introduces inclusive, novel ways of keeping students active

Jonathan Mauro is “humbled” by provincial award

A Red Deer Catholic school teacher who’s encouraging students to look beyond team sports to become active for life, has won provincial recognition.

Jonathan Mauro, a phys-ed instructor at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, received the Dr. Andy Anderson Young Professional Award “for his devotion to health and mental wellness endeavours.” It was presented earlier this month at the Health & Physical Education Council (HPEC) provincial conference in Calgary.

Mauro has expanded his school’s phys-ed options to include yoga, kettlebells, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing, as well as more traditional activities such as volleyball and basketball.

The council honoured Mauro for going “above and beyond,” as a teacher who introduces new initiatives, while also overseeing workshops as a HPEC Central Regional Representative.

Gary Gylander, principal at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School, said “Jon has worked hard,” to shift the school’s physical education program to a focus on life-long active living.

He credits Mauro for combined his own beliefs with knowledge gained from professional development and the doctorate he’s completing at the University of Alberta, to make a difference for students.

Since not everyone’s into team sports, Mauro has added a lot of alternative phys-ed activities, including mountain biking and suspension fitness training. But he also firmly believes that everyone who does want to play team sports should be able to.

Often socio-economic status — or an ability to afford to play on extra-curricular teams — contributes to a student’s skill level and success, he said. Therefore, Mauro doesn’t believe in cutting weaker students from school teams or making them go through a stressful try-out.

“I think if they want to play, they should be able to play… If school is for everyone, then school sports should be for all too.”

Mauro’s grateful for the award, saying: “I am humbled and honoured to be mentioned (with) previous award winners and to be nominated by my peers.”

He credits his family, colleagues and district administrators for their support.

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