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Westonka Hosts MNSHAPE Conference

Westonka Hosts MNSHAPE Conference

Click on the above image for more pictures from the MNSHAPE Conference

October 30, 2019 — Although there was no school for Westonka Public Schools students Oct. 17 and 18 due to the Minnesota Educator Academy (MEA) conference, the gyms, pool and dance studio at Mound Westonka High School and the Westonka Activity Center were full of energetic and motivated health and physical education professionals, who gathered to learn from each other and from leaders in their field.

Westonka hosted the 2019 Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators (MNSHAPE) Conference, organized by Grandview Middle School PE teacher Pete Westby. The annual event attracted 235 attendees from throughout Minnesota and the neighboring states.

Westby, a 10-year member of MNSHAPE and developmental adaptive PE vice president, said he was excited to showcase Westonka’s facilities by hosting this conference for the first time. "We had tremendous support from administration and staff, which allowed us to put on this great event," Westby said. "It provided a great opportunity to inspire collaboration and teamwork."

The theme for the conference was "Teaching Learners to Think on Their Feet." A total of 37 vendors were on hand, promoting a variety of PE-related products. The conference included over 50 breakout sessions on curriculum, instruction, dance, assessments and grading, technology, and PE standards and benchmarks.

Hilltop Primary School PE teacher Sean Ryther presented "Cooperative Games, Classroom Management Strategies and Checking for Understanding." In his session, participants learned the setup, rules, objectives and strategies of several favorite cooperative games while fostering an environment of collaboration and inclusion. Participants walked away with classroom management strategies that could help them maximize their time with their students, decrease undesired behavior and increase relationships and trust.

"Hosting MNSHAPE at Westonka gave me a sense of pride in our district," said Ryther. "Hearing others talk about our facilities and hearing the praise of the support from our administrators around quality physical education was very encouraging."

The MNSHAPE conference was preceded by a one-day Special Olympics Unified PE Conference on Oct. 16, which attracted over 40 educators. Unified physical education is a unique opportunity for students of varying ability levels and backgrounds to come together on equal terms through ongoing fitness, sports, leadership and wellness activities.

In a letter to the district, Deb Van Klei of the Stillwater Public Schools thanked Westonka Schools for hosting the MNSHAPE conference. "Your physical education staff members continue to be wonderful professionals and I appreciate all of their hard work organizing and helping to make the conference a great success," Van Klei wrote.

MNSHAPE is a school-based professional association that provides professional services and resources for teachers, organizations, and individuals to provide quality programs. MNSHAPE is dedicated to improving the skills, knowledge, health, and well-being of all Minnesota students.