|Governor Names CSUF Doctoral Candidate Principal of the Year
Kurt Suhr's Newport Heights Elementary Receives $10,000
Nov. 30, 2007 :: No. 113
Kurt Suhr, a Cal State Fullerton doctoral candidate and elementary school principal, knows firsthand that fitness counts when it comes to student academic success.
Because of his efforts launching the Coordinated Approach to Children’s Health (CATCH) Physical Education program at Newport Heights Elementary School, Suhr has been honored with the 2007 Principal of the Year Award from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor recognizes outstanding educators each year through his Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
As part of the recognition, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports presented a $10,000 check to Newport Heights Elementary in support of the CATCH program.
Suhr began CATCH after learning about the comprehensive K-6th grade physical education program used in Texas schools. Today, the program is offered in more than 1,500 K-8 classrooms across California.
“It’s a amazing to see a program start at our school and to know it’s affecting so many students outside our school,” said Suhr, who hopes to complete his Ed.D. in educational administration in the spring. His dissertation research focuses on how the use of laptop computers can help fourth-graders read.
The Newport Heights principal is quick to credit parents and others at the school, as well as the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and Orange County Department of Education, for the program’s success. “By no means is it because of my efforts,” said Suhr. “It’s taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people who wanted to implement this program. It’s truly been a collective effort, and this award is in recognition of the great team effort.”
Four years ago, the school piloted the new approach to physical education, in part, to meet state requirements for elementary schools. Suhr, parents and others also wanted a program that would get students’ heart rates pumping and encourage a healthier lifestyle.
The program focuses on physical education lesson plans that have students exercise in small groups, include nutrition education at school and home, and involve collaboration with school nutritionists to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods. Suhr also started a breakfast club to reward students who walk to school and introduced a new playground plan that increases physical activity during recess and lunch.
Suhr added that most important, the program helps students to build a “sound body and sound mind.”
“The strongest benefit that we’re seeing is that kids are getting the types of exercise they need to burn off their energy, and the result is that they are more focused in the classroom,” Suhr said. “We’ve seen the CATCH program do wonders at our school, and it’s nice to see it grow throughout California and address the physical education needs faced by schools.”
Kurt Suhr, Newport Heights Elementary School,
Debra Cano Ramos, CSUF Public Affairs, 657-278-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kurt Suhr, left, with Governor Schwarzenegger and student