Education

Education on Centre: State High teacher recognized for contributions to health education

Melanie Lynch, health education teacher at State College Area High School, recently received the National Health Education Teacher of the Year from SHAPE America.
Melanie Lynch, health education teacher at State College Area High School, recently received the National Health Education Teacher of the Year from SHAPE America. Photo provided

Melanie Lynch wasn’t originally planning a trip to the Twin Cities this spring, but when she went to Minneapolis earlier this month, she got a little more than she asked for.

The State College Area High School health education teacher took home the National Health Education Teacher of the Year award through SHAPE America, following the weeklong conference in Minnesota.

The award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance in school health and the ability to motivate youth to make healthy choices for a lifetime, a report from SHAPE America said.

SHAPE America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators, honored six of 24 district winners with Teacher of the Year awards in different categories.

Lynch is recognized for designing and implementing “high energy, student-centered lesson plans that are aligned with the National Health Education Standards,” the report said.

“I would say that to go to that level, it’s not just having great class curriculum,” Lynch said. “It’s skills-based health education, and teaching to all the national standards — communication, and advocating with each other and things I don’t ever remember being taught in high school like how to resist peer pressure, bullying, eating disorders, and self-management, and why we eat and gain the freshman 15 when we get to college. It’s not just, ‘this is a nutrient,’ and call it day. We also have to be doing a lot in the field.”

She even uses a textbook she co-wrote called “Comprehensive Health” to help teach her students.

I think keeping up and running in circles of high-energy and like-minded higher educators is important. When new research comes out, it keeps you right on the front lines of that and helps you facilitate new initiatives

Melanie Lynch, State High health education teacher

“It’s such an important part of life and now school, and it’s something that is ever-changing,” Lynch said. “I think keeping up and running in circles of high-energy and like-minded higher educators is important. When new research comes out, it keeps you right on the front lines of that and helps you facilitate new initiatives.”

Lynch has been a full-time teacher in the State College Area School District for 20 years.

She’s also a member of SHAPE America’s Health Council and president of the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Among her honors, she is the 2015 SHAPE America Eastern District Health Teacher of the Year, 2015 SHAPE America Eastern District Professional of the Year and 2004 PSAHPERD Health Teacher of the Year. She also won the 2012 Professional Honor Award, a report from SHAPE America said.

Lynch received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State in kinesiology, with teacher prep and counselor of education.

She’s also been a member of the State College Area Roller Derby for four years. You can find her skating with teams Mount Nittany Mayhem and Plan B, under the name Pinky Balboa.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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