Johnson named SHAPE Physical Education Major of the Year
It’s no accident that Dana Johnson ’19 became the first Doane student to be recognized as the Society of Health & Physical Educators (SHAPE) Physical Education Major of the Year.
Dana has excelled as a student inside and outside of the classroom during her time at Doane. As a Physical and Special Education major, Dana has volunteered with Special Olympics and the Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp, played basketball, competed in track & field, student taught at multiple schools, and holds a 3.94 GPA.
Dana was named the top Physical Education Major in Nebraska at SHAPE’s annual awards banquet last week, competing against students from other in-state colleges. Cindy Meyer, associate professor of physical education at Doane, is also on the leadership council for SHAPE. Meyer has been teaching at Doane for 32 years and says that Dana is one of the most impressive students she has taught during her time at Doane.
“I was so proud to see her win the award,” Meyer said. “Dana has always put in the extra time and effort to excel. She has such a great rapport with the students she works with. It has been very rewarding to be able to teach her.”
Dana is currently student teaching at Friend High School but has also taught summer school in Crete for the last two years and student taught at Crete Middle School. While doing practicum placement at Crete Middle School, she also helped coach the middle school track team.
Dana left such a positive impact on the school that she was offered a full-time teaching job at Crete Middle School before finishing her degree, teaching 7th grade health and physical education. Flattered and humbled, it was a no-brainer for Dana to accept the offer.
“This was my dream job,” she said. “I love the Crete community. They have really embraced me and I hope I can repay it with my hard work.”
While she will have met the requirements for her special education degree in December, she will be taking classes in the spring to complete her physical education degree, in addition to working full-time.
Dana looks forward to combining her two passions -- special education and physical education -- in her new role.
“I would love to help start a unified sports program in Crete,” Dana said. “Lincoln Public Schools recently started unified sports in track and bowling and I think it would be great for this to happen in Crete as well.”
Unified sports is an inclusive sports program that partners students with special needs with individuals without a disability to work together as teammates for training and competition.
Dana’s interest in unified sports has peaked after taking an adaptive P.E. class with Cindy Meyer, which allows Doane students to be paired with a student with special needs in the Crete school district to play different sports.
This has given Doane students the opportunity to learn how to work with various students - whether it’s a student who has autism or a student that recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. As Dana points out, Doane physical science majors want to become physical therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, etc., and this is a very valuable experience for them.
Dana has also had the opportunity to teach P.E. at St. James Catholic Elementary School in Crete once a week last year because the school does not have a P.E. instructor.
“When you hear P.E. teacher, a lot of people think ‘Oh you’re just going to roll out a ball and let people play,’ when it is truly so much more than that.”
Dana adds, “Taking courses like kinesiology, exercise physiology, and anatomy -- those help me realize how I can teach classes better. I am now doing a fitness unit for my class teaching girls how to land correctly when they jump to prevent ACL tears. Learning these things in my classes really helps. It’s cool to say that I worked on a cadaver and I’m a P.E. teacher.”
For more information on SHAPE Nebraska and their student awards, visit their website at shapenebraska.org.