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Physical education teachers from China share lessons with Beaverton schools.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Third-grader Devo Gantz, leads physical education teachers from China in an exercise activity at Raleigh Park Elementary School. Teachers from the Beaverton School District and from China visited the school during an Active Schools Innovation Awards event. There was a whole lot of jumping, running and even Tai Chi going on Thursday, Oct. 5, as Nike and the Beaverton School District hosted a group of award-winning physical education teachers from across China at Raleigh Park Elementary School.

The event was the culmination of the recent Active Schools Innovation Awards, a partnership between Nike and China's Ministry of Education recognizing innovation in sport and play in China's schools.  

As a part of the innovation exchange, physical education teachers from China and Beaverton public schools collaborate and exchange best practices, sharing how they inspire children to move and play. It is a part of an innovation exchange designed to bring together leaders in sport and play in schools from China and the United States. 

A group of teachers from China were selected to visit Los Angeles and Oregon to share best practices with leading schools and programs that are also promoting innovation in schools.

The Beaverton School District is among the leading school districts in the United States in physical education; last year, it received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the district's innovative approach to physical activity in schools.

Beaverton schools incorporate physical education throughout the school day. One of the pillars of this approach is the Brain Boost program, which brings yoga, dance and movement into the classroom as a way of increasing students' ability to focus during lessons, as well as improving behavior and class management. 

Nicole Cereda, a P.E. teacher at West Tualatin View Elementary School, said she likes to incorporate moving into learning using cross-curricular education. She said it brings math, science and language arts together with exercise.

P.E. and Brain Boost teacher from Chehalem and Errol Hassell elementary schools Macy Gandara said the programs help students refocus and recharge. It helps them with direction following and transitions during the day.

"The teachers appreciate it," Gandara said. "It's a new person directing the children."

In a statement, the general manager of Nike Community Impact said Thursday's event highlighted some of the "bright spots" in getting kids active.

"Globally, today's generation of kids is the least active in history," Caitlin Morris said. "However, there are bright spots. These teachers from China and Beaverton exemplify the tremendous talents and innovation in physical education that's taking place around the world. Their backgrounds are different, but they're all innovators on and off the field. This innovation exchange highlights Nike's belief that kids are made to play, and that sport is a unifying force."

Lv Shao Wu, a Chinese literature and P.E. teacher from Longxi County in central China, was one of the teachers participating in the cultural exchange.

"I am really impressed with the teachers' relationship with the kids — how they teach them to move and play," he said. "I really want to learn and bring what I learn back. I have come so far on this journey, I have to — I must share what I learned."

Lv brought soccer to students in the rural, mountainous area of his village. After suffering a knee injury, he realized he could still participate in his favorite sport by coaching kids.

With the enthusiastic support of his school principal, Lv started a soccer team and rallied a group of teachers and students to help him turn a deserted field behind the school into a soccer field. He then purchased equipment with his own money and used online videos to learn to coach.

Through his soccer program, Lv believes he has helped motivate his students to do better in school and in life.

"The game of soccer opened a new door for me and the joy that I get from it is unlimited. It made me a more confident person and I'm seeing the same impact in my players. Confidence plays an extremely important role for kids and it will help them throughout their entire lives," Lv said. "It's an honor to be chosen to be a part of this cultural exchange, where I can learn from some of the best and brightest here in the U.S."

Kristina and Rob Hansmann are a husband-and-wife duo of P.E. teachers in the Beaverton School District. Kristina teaches at Hiteon Elementary School, while Rob is at Sato Elementary School. Both enjoyed the event and the opportunity to compare notes with counterparts from China.

"It's cool to showcase what Beaverton is doing to another country," Kristina Hansmann said.

"This cultural exchange is a tremendous opportunity for our physical education teachers to have a glimpse into the innovative thinking that's taking place in schools within another culture," said Don Grotting, Beaverton School District superintendent. "We thank Nike for their continued partnership and commitment to getting kids moving around the world. Through programs like this one, some of the most innovative minds in physical education can learn from one another to create a culture of movement that not only helps students physically, but helps them in the classroom and beyond."

By Mandy Feder-Sawyer
Reporter, Beaverton Valley Times
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