December 9, 2016
16-326

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Sonya Sanderson Named Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Dr. Sonya Sanderson

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Dr. Sonya Sanderson is the recipient of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s 2016 College/University Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award.

Sanderson was recognized during the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s annual three-day convention, which was held in Savannah. The 2016 College/University Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award honors her commitment to teaching, scholarship, professional contributions, service, student advisement, and mentoring.

“I was excited just to be nominated for this award, but to win it is truly a special honor,” she said. “The Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance has an impressive membership of exceptional college and university health and physical education faculty who motivate and inspire me. I feel honored to be named Physical Education Teacher of the Year and to be able to influence the next generation of teachers studying at Valdosta State.”  

Sanderson joined the Blazer Nation family in 2005. She currently serves the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education as interim head, an associate professor, a student advisor, and coordinator of the undergraduate program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Education, with a major in health and physical education. She earned VSU’s coveted Faculty Excellence in Advising Award in 2014.

Jonathan C. Wiley, a Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education alumnus, said, “… because of her, I walked with confidence across the stage in December [of 2013].” He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at VSU.

“She is simply a talent you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere short of a storybook,” he continued. “She deserves this award and so much more.”

Sanderson has coached and/or taught students at every academic level, from prekindergarten to postsecondary, throughout her professional career.

“… Sonya knows the skills and knowledge that are necessary to pass along to her students so they can be successful in their professional careers,” shared Brian Devore, president of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. “One of Sonya’s best skills as a teacher is the relationship she builds with her students in the classroom and within the profession. She displays a belief in each student that they can be successful without sacrificing high expectations. I have seen firsthand the light in students’ eyes when Sonya encourages them to achieve a goal.”  

Sanderson holds a Doctor of Arts, with a major in physical education, from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., as well as a Master of Arts, with a major in curriculum and instruction, and a Bachelor of Science, with certification to teach students in kindergarten through 12th grade and a major in physical education, from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tenn. She is an active member of such professional groups as Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society for those in the field of education; the American College of Sports Medicine; the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine; the Society of Health and Physical Educators; and the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. She is on the staff of Share the Wealth, where she also serves as a member of the National Convention Committee. She is vice president of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s General Division, as well as a physical education workshop coordinator for the organization’s Southeastern Division and the Coastal Plains Regional Educational Service Agency. 

Sanderson has published research more than a dozen times in scholarly journals, with other articles either under review or in the process of being published, and she has collaborated with her students in their research as a supporting author. She is a seasoned presenter at professional conferences at all levels — local, state, regional, national, and international. She currently serves as a part-time member of the VSU Campus Wellness Committee, a position she has enjoyed since 2008, and enjoys mentoring students in the Health and Physical Education Majors Club. She has served the community as a volunteer with Relay for Life, Special Olympics, and county-wide wellness days, as well as a friend to teachers in area school systems since she arrived in Valdosta more than 11 years ago. She enjoys studying movement, teaching, bone mineral density, and Title IX.

The Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Inc. is a nonprofit organization for professionals and students dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Georgians. It supports and promotes effective educational practices, quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the areas of health, physical education, recreation, dance, and related fields.

Contact Dr. Sonya L. Sanderson at (229) 333-7161 or slsanderson@valdosta.edu to learn more.

On the Web:
http://www.valdosta.edu/colleges/education/kinesiology-and-physical-education/
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