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He's fit to be the best

Olympic High School phys. ed. teacher Ted Vaughn does abdominal crunches designed to strenghten and tighten muscles during a class at the school on Tuesday morning. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Olympic High School phys. ed. teacher Ted Vaughn does abdominal crunches designed to strenghten and tighten muscles during a class at the school on Tuesday morning.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Yoga, aerobics, ‘walking’ as a sport, and giant rubber balls way too big to fit through a basketball hoop — it’s not your father’s gym class.

Olympic High School’s Ted Vaughn has just received the “Washington State High School Physical Education Teacher-of-the-Year” award for his innovations, among other things.

“I think I’m a very good teacher,” said Vaughn frankly, “but (most) of what was taken into consideration in giving me this award was the program we’ve worked out in the district, in which we focus on life-long fitness rather than traditional sports.”

Vaughn, who’s been a teacher at Olympic since the school opened in 1979, said phys ed teachers discovered if schools only relied on traditional sports — basketball, baseball, tennis, etc. — only about 10 percent of the student body benefitted.

“The other 90 percent were just regular kids, not into sports, and not learning very much about life-long fitness,” he said.

Vaughn said the lack of such training may be behind the current “epidemic” of obesity and obesity-related “adult-onset diabetes,” or so-called diabetes II, now ravaging the country. Between 1991 and 2000, there was a 61 percent rise in obesity in the general population.

This is the kind of teaching kids get in Vaughn’s class: How a simple fitness routine, practiced regularly — plus a good diet — can help you avoid a lot of grief later on.

Also, “I try to introduce the kids to all the different types of fitness they may encounter out there in the real world at a typical gym. I teach them yoga, aerobics, dumbbells, how to operate exercise machines, Tae bo, rock-wall climbing, trail walking ... I teach them ‘how to walk’ so it does the most good. They learn how to use pedometers.”

Pedometers are generally inexpensive little devices, about the size of a beeper, that clip on a belt to measure how many steps and how many miles you’ve walked per day.

How you walk and how far can determine whether you’re in shape or not.

“It’s also important for kids to keep track of their physical activities,” he added. “They write down what they did each week, plus the intensity levels.” This helps them keep track of their progress.

“Walking is also a great stress reliever, as is yoga,” he said. Knowing when to relax and how to relax is just as important as vigorous activity. Yoga teaches relaxation.

“The word needs to get out that P.E. is changing,” he said. “CK School District is being looked at as having one of the best fitness programs in the state.”

He hastened to add that “We’re not cutting athletes out ... but that’s an extracurricular activity.” School athletes typically train for fitness when not playing their particular sport, he said.

Vaughn was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska., and graduated from Sitka High in 1971. He attended the University of Idaho and then Central Washington University — where he earned his teaching certificate in health and physical education.

He taught in Kelso, Wash. for two years, before moving to the Puget Sound area and taking a job at CK High School. He transferred to OHS when the school opened. He’s also curriculum specialist for K-12 for CKSD.

The P.E. Teacher-of-the-Year award is sponsored by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and the Washington Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

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