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Creating a pathway

Passion to guide students as physical activity educators leads to industry recognition

Steve Shelton working with students

Steve Shelton’s interest in coaching and movement led him to major in health and physical education and pursue a career to merge these two interests. Now Shelton helps others earn a degree, while guiding them as educators. He credits faculty members in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences master’s program for their leadership and expertise. Shelton pulled insight from that experience to ensure his success as an instructor. Since his time in the program, he has encouraged several Radford University graduates to enroll at WVU. He plans to continue this pattern. 

Physical Educator of the Year

CPASS graduate Steve Shelton has received the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (VAHPERD) College/University Physical Educator of the Year for 2019. 

Shelton, M.S. Physical Education Teacher Education (2010), currently serves as an instructor of Health and Human Performance at Radford University (8 years). Prior to teaching at RU, he spent 20 years in public education as an elementary physical education specialist in Montgomery County Public Schools, Va. 

Shelton’s current courses at RU include motor development, theory and practice of movement concepts and skill themes, effective teaching skills and teaching PE for inclusion, methods of teaching elementary PE and behavior management in PE.

Vision for health and physical education career

Shelton says he has always enjoyed being physically active and helping others develop that same desire for movement. “I knew I wanted to work with youngsters in a movement-oriented setting and to coach. It seemed like a logical idea to major in health and physical education and pursue a career to merge these two interests,” he said.  

Shelton views the Physical Educator of the Year award as a culmination of a 28-year career spent helping others become physically literate “It’s a great honor to receive the award. I love working with the students at Radford University. The award is an acknowledgment of the time and energy I have spent investing in our students and helping them earn a university degree and teaching license,” Shelton said.

Educators as mentors

He credits his mentors at WVU CPASS as leading him on how to become a professor. “There were many professionals that were so helpful during my time in the M.S. PETE program (2008-2010). When I progressed through the program at WVU, I was not only taking notes to pass my courses, I was also taking notes on how to be a professor.

“I was noticing how to interact with college students, how to create a syllabus and implement effective instruction and more. I knew I wanted to move to higher education once I completed my degree requirements,” he added.

Shelton says numerous professionals helped shape his WVU experience. “Drs. Andy Hawkins and Sean Bulger invested the greatest amount of time in my development and had the most significant impact. I will always be grateful for their positive examples,” he said.

Discovering a pathway

His degree from WVU credentialed him for the position he currently holds at RU. “Based on my WVU experiences, I have dedicated myself to designing and delivering similar instructional opportunities for my current undergraduate students at RU.

“The courses that I am currently assigned to teach are very similar in content to the ones I took at WVU. That experience has enabled me to draw from what I learned in the M.S. program and present it to our undergraduates at RU in a more meaningful and understandable way,” he said. 

Sharing the journey

Shelton says he is fortunate to have completed his M.S. at WVU. “Since my time in the program, we have sent several RU graduates to the CPASS program. We hope to continue this pattern,” he said.

Shelby Landay and Rachel Wimer are two current students who are working through the WVU CPASS online M.S. program. “They graduated from RU in different years, became colleagues at the same elementary school in northern Virginia, coincidentally, and will soon finish their degree at WVU. They are a dynamic duo and their students are lucky to have them as teachers. I am thrilled they are progressing through the WVU program together,” Shelton said.

Shelby Landay comments 

I remember the first time I met Mr. Shelton. He was the PE teacher at Christiansburg elementary school and as a class we went to observe him teach. One day we had to teach small groups in his class and while I was teaching an emergency happened. The way Mr. Shelton handled it was something I will never forget. He was so calm and collected and knew exactly how to make the student feel comfortable. From that day forward, I looked at Mr. Shelton as more than just a great teacher. 

My senior year at Radford, Mr. Shelton began his first year as a professor. I was fortunate enough to take one of his classes and had him as an advisor for my student teaching practice. Mr. Shelton is someone who excels at being a professor. He makes a difference in a way that not many are able to do. 

I have an amazing teaching partner that I would never have had if it weren’t for Mr. Shelton recommending our school to her. Now Rachel Wimer and I are receiving our master’s degree at West Virginia university alongside one another. This would not have happened without the advice of Mr. Shelton. He is one of a kind and I believe everyone who interacts with him feels the exact same way.

Rachel Wimer comments

Mr. Shelton is the reason I am the educator I am today. He inspired me, believed in me, and prepared me to be the best student and teacher possible. He helped me every step of the way throughout my time at RU, answering every question and email, giving countless hours of time to make sure everything was just right. He cares so deeply about his students and work, sharing every resource and management tip possible so there is always something to have in our back pocket.

He is the reason I am at my current school, teaching with a fellow RU grad, Shelby Landay. We knew he spoke so highly of his time within the WVU CPASS program, sharing memories, projects, and examples, encouraging us to continue our education. Shelby and I are graduating this spring and we are thanking Mr. Shelton and our amazing WVU professors every step of the way.  

Look for authentic experiences

Shelton has advice for upcoming students interested in the field. “I believe seeking out as many practical experiences as possible to work with children and adolescents is critically important, including on campus and in local schools. This path helps students to better understand youngsters, appreciate the dynamics of public schools and understand the nature of good instruction in a realistic setting.

“Having these authentic experiences will help university students gain much needed time on the job and can help them develop competence and confidence on their journey to becoming an effective entry-level professional upon graduation,” he said.

Partnerships, coaching and professional development add up to success

Shelton, B.S. Health and Physical Education (1991), Radford University, was a member of the University’s men’s cross-country team. He coached boys and girls cross country at Christiansburg High School from 1992-99, twice winning state championships and earning a national ranking in 1994. The Roanoke Times named him Timesland Coach of the Year five times during his tenure.

VAHPERD recognized Shelton, from Christiansburg, Va., for effective teaching by emphasizing the significance of physical education as an “important personal component that enables students to understand their own health and fitness requirements,” as stated in the organization’s award criteria. 

According to RU faculty members, Shelton excels in partnering with colleagues from other disciplines and demonstrating professional development through attending conferences and workshops. Shelton served as southwest Virginia VAHPERD workshop director (held at RU) 2012-2017.

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