By Amanda Foust
Creekside Middle School’s Jenny Berju has been named SHAPE America’s Midwest District Health Education Teacher of the Year and nominated for the National Health Education Teacher of the Year award. SHAPE America is the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals.
The award recognizes outstanding performance in teaching health and motivating students to choose healthy living for a lifetime.
“I am a passionate teacher who loves what I do, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Berju said.
With an emphasis on healthy eating and an active lifestyle, Berju strives to create a teaching environment that is fun yet challenging.
“I want all my students to enjoy health and know it’s something they will use for the rest of their lives, even teaching family and friends these same habits,” she said.
Berju is a graduate of Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and Ball State University with a master’s in administration and supervision and has taught every grade, K-12, before coming to Carmel four years ago.
Berju had to prove herself to the SHAPE America board by submitting an application, completing an extensive questionnaire and sending sample lesson plans. For the national award, there were even more expectations. She was required to record herself teaching a lesson and be interviewed by former teachers of the year.
After hearing that she received the Midwest award and national nomination to follow, she was surprised.
“There are so many amazing teachers out there, so I was shocked and humbled when I heard,” she said.
In the classroom, Berju’s students are actively involved in stations, partner activities and group work involving movement. She aims to help her students take ownership of their health goals and gives them many opportunities to work as a team.
“Mrs. Berju’s teaching is interactive and she makes health interesting,” said Erika White, 12, a student at Creekside.
Berju will be recognized April 5 to 9 at the National Convention & Expo in Minneapolis, Minn., with The National Health Education Teacher of the Year award recipient announced April 8.