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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
Medfield High wellness, personal safety, and ballroom teacher Karen Renaud was recently named the High School Teacher of the Year by the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (MAHPERD).
According to a notice from the state organization, “This award is given to a physical education teacher who has demonstrated dedication to the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance profession, and shown leadership to the youth she teaches.”
Renaud has been instrumental in creating the ballroom class at the high school and promoting ballroom events such as the Dancing With the Warriors Showcase, which was held earlier this month in the Medfield High gym.
Medfield High principal Robert Parga came into a recent class to inform Renaud’s students of the honor. Renaud explained, “He told me that he had to tell the kids something so I was concerned that something was going on at the school.”
She added, “The students have been very kind. It’s been nice to hear from some former students as well.”
In the end, awards are great but it is the appreciation shown by the students and the way that each of them has embraced the subjects that is validation for Renaud.
She said, “When a student tells me that a new technique they learned in stress management class is really helping them feel more peaceful, or that their experience in the ballroom class has made them feel self confident, or what they learned in personal safety could save their life that’s what validates the work.”
When asked about her favorite aspect of teaching, Renaud replied, “Seeing the ‘light bulb moments’ when a student really gets something, knowing when they really understand how something they just learned will benefit their well being, seeing them smile, laugh and feel joy through movement.”
Recently, Renaud has added to Medfield High’s wellness offerings by developing a stress management course. The project came from a discussion with Content Specialist Susan Cowell about the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
“I have to say that I was a little nervous about developing and teaching it,” Renaud admitted, “because I feel like I’m learning right along with them, but I feel very good about the first course which just finished.”
For Renaud, the work is all about the students. The wellness programs benefit students facing the pressures of getting good grades, finding the right college, or even trying to make a team. Whether it is showing a new move in the ballroom class or explaining ways to manage stress, Renaud just enjoys the day-to-day in the classroom.
“It would have to be helping a student deal with a difficult challenge or finding ways to bring varied skill levels together for a performance piece in the ballroom class,” said Renaud about her favorite moments as a teacher.
The award will be presented on Sunday, April 10 at the MAHPERD Honors Awards Banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Milford. For more information about the organization and the award, visit www.ma-hperd.org.
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.