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Teaching and Learning faculty capture 'teacher of year' honors at statewide convention

Two faculty members from Western Carolina University’s School of Teaching and Learning – Dan Grube and Heidi Turlington – were recognized with “teacher of the year honors” and several students won awards as the university made an exceptionally strong showing at the recent state convention of the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sport Management.

The event brought students and professionals who are involved in all those disciplines across the state to Winston-Salem on Oct. 24-26. Thirty WCU undergraduates and numerous faculty members from the university attended.

Dan Grube

The NCAAHPERD-SM, as it is also known, is an alliance of seven state associations represented in its name and is an affiliate of a national organization – the Society of Health and Physical Educators, otherwise known as SHAPE America. The state alliance recently voted to change its name, however, to more closely align with the national group and soon will be known as the North Carolina Society for Health and Physical Educators, or NC SHAPE.

Grube has taught at WCU since 1999 and is an associate professor in the Health and Physical Education Programs, as well as serving as director of the School of Teaching and Learning in the university’s College of Education and Allied Professions. He received the College/University PE Teacher of the Year honor at the convention, which was presented by the state alliance and one of its affiliates, the North Carolina Physical Education Association. It was Grube’s second time capturing that award, as he also was the recipient in 2005. He is now in the running for SHAPE America’s Southern District PE Teacher of the Year honors.

The individual who nominated Grube for the award noted his record of service to both the state alliance and SHAPE America and wrote that on the WCU campus he “is the type of person that wears whatever hat is necessary to ensure that whatever needs to get finished, gets finished.”

“What I admire and respect most about Dan is his dedication to our students at WCU, as well as (to) our HPE (programs),” the nominator wrote. “I can honestly say that Dr. Dan Grube is among the most thoughtful and genuine people I have ever met. If you are his student or a colleague, you know he cares and you know that you matter.”

Heidi Turlington

Grube said he is honored to be recognized with the award, “but I’m mostly proud of our program.” “We have  many great faculty who work with our students to help them be as successful as they can be, and we have great students, too,” he said.

Grube said WCU always has had a strong reputation in the state alliance, but the university’s students and faculty made a particularly impressive showing at this year’s convention, with the WCU student group far outnumbering students from other colleges and universities. “Our students and faculty represented us well,” he said.

Turlington earned her master’s degree in physical education at WCU in 2009 and has been an instructor in health and physical education for the School of Teaching and Learning since 2011, after serving as an adjunct professor for two years. All WCU health and physical education majors take a required dance class, and Turlington also teaches dance in WCU’s School of Stage and Screen. She received the College/University Dance Education Teacher of the Year award from the Dance Association for North Carolina Educators, another organization that falls under the umbrella of the state alliance.

Turlington’s nominator wrote that she is an “exceptional teacher and our students love her” and “her enthusiasm is contagious.” “I have watched her help our HPE majors overcome fear, lack of knowledge and other barriers and go into our local schools to teach a variety of dance with confidence and joy,” the nominator wrote.

Turlington said she is honored to receive the state award. “I am also proud of our dance students and health and physical education majors at Western,” she said. “This award reflects well on them, also. Their enthusiasm makes my job fun and their creativity gives me new teaching ideas.”

Also at the convention, three WCU health and physical education students – Morgan Helton, Ashlee Caraker and Jacob Ocegueda – were recognized with awards. Helton received Student Major of the Year honors from the Student Majors Association, an affiliate of the state alliance, while Caraker won the June P. Galloway Scholarship Award and Ocegueda received the Nathan Taylor Scholarship Award, with both those honors coming from the state alliance.

For more information about WCU’s participation in the event and the state organization, contact Grube at 828-227-7108 or

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