Accolades Continue To Mount Up For Payson Teacher Donna Moore


Leading a morning class in kickbox-type exercises, physical education instructor Donna Moore (above) takes her class through their paces and makes the exercise a fun and exciting period.

Leading a morning class in kickbox-type exercises, physical education instructor Donna Moore (above) takes her class through their paces and makes the exercise a fun and exciting period. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Gila County Teacher of the Year —check.

Help the district get a million-dollar federal grant to expand its physical education program — check.

Classroom honored with one of the 10 Healthy Body/Healthy Mind awards statewide — check.

Named one of the 20 People to Watch — check, check.

The accolades for Payson Unified School District physical education teacher Donna Moore keep building.

In March, the Century Council, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, notified Moore she had made their list as one of the 20 people to watch — joining the ranks of Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and others.

“I was completely floored,” Moore said of the honor.

The other 19 people recognized include Steve Talpins, CEO and chair of the Board for the National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime, Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team, and Ohno, an eight-time Olympic medalist.

The fact that the other award recipients are not in physical education “is so exciting,” Moore said.

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Danielle Tabanico watches Moore and follows through on her movements with precision, style and grace.

The Century Council created the 20 People to Watch to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary and honor those working to curb underage drinking.

“As part of our celebration of the work we have done to fight drunk driving and underage drinking, we would like to highlight 20 people that have been true leaders along our side and are ones we are excited to follow in the future,” said Susan Molinari, chair of the Century Council.

All 20 winners are highlighted on the Council’s Web site, www.centurycouncil .org, including video interviews detailing the impact each has had in their field as well as what makes them an exceptional leader.

Moore was interviewed several weeks ago while at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance National Convention and Expo in San Diego.

Ohno also spoke at the Expo and Moore had the opportunity to meet him.

“It was so exciting to meet someone of that caliber,” Moore said.

In October, the Century Council will honor all 20 at an anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C.

Moore was introduced to the Century Council a year ago when it asked her to pilot a video game in her physical education classes.

The game, Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix is a multimedia program where kids stand on a mat and through customized on-screen characters choose from four, multi-level activities. In the levels, students answer questions on how alcohol affects their body, the basics of nutrition and the impact of making healthy decisions, according to the Century Council’s Web site.

“More than 50 questions randomly appear as kids race to school, workout in the dance studio, or challenge their friends, while raising their heart rate and increasing their fitness.”

Julia Randall and Frontier Elementary School fifth-graders piloted the program during the beginning part of the school year.

Moore said although the program is designed for middle school children, elementary students responded well to the program and it was a great way to start underage drinking awareness earlier.

“We don’t need to wait until middle school to start these types of programs,” she said. “We need to do more for prevention.”

In the game, students walk or run while on the game pad. When prompted to stop, they answer a question about drinking, such as “If a friend is drinking, what should you do?” Students then pick the best answer.

Ohno is currently promoting the game for the Century Council.

While working with the Century Council on the game, officials learned of the other projects Moore is involved with, including the $1.4 million PEP grant to expand PUSD’s physical education program.

Through a grant Moore won from a heart rate monitor company, the district was able to pay a professional grant writer to write a proposal for the federal funds. With the grant writer’s expertise, the district was awarded the funding. The district is already using the funds on a pedometer project aimed at getting students moving more.

Over the next three years, the district will add innovative and high-tech tools, including a ropes adventure course, Wii and Xavix gaming systems, Dance Dance Revolution and bicycles that students pedal through video games.

Most schools will also receive in-line skates, rowing equipment and yoga mats.

On top of helping the district get the grant, in 2009, the Arizona Rural Schools Association selected Moore as Gila County Teacher of the Year. Also in 2009, then-superintendent Tom Horne award her class one of 10 Healthy Body/Healthy Mind awards.

With or without the awards, Moore said she is driven to work hard on physical education, a career-long passion.

Her goal is to get every child up and moving and living a healthy life.

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