2023 SHAPE Delaware Health Education Teacher of the Year — Kate Austin, Cape Henlopen High School

I serve as a positive role model to my students by focusing on building meaningful relationships in the classroom, with an emphasis on connections before content. It can be difficult to get to know over 200 students per semester on a personal level, but I have a goal each year to encourage students to embrace the importance of not only physical health but also mental, emotional, and social health. I lead by example through my involvement in physical activity and through health-enhancing behaviors in all aspects of wellness. I often work with my students to set goals to improve overall wellness, and I share my personal wellness goals with them to make connections and emphasize the importance of aiming to be a healthy individual throughout all stages of life. While I enjoy physical activity and involvement in sports, I understand that not every student in my class has the same level of enjoyment. I meet my students where they are and encourage them to set small goals to make improvements, and to find activities they enjoy, even if traditional team or individual sports are not offered at the high school. I also know that the content in my class may be difficult for some students at times. I am very open with my students and ask them to inform me of triggering topics ahead of time, so I can do my best to make accommodations during lessons. I also make resources within the school and outside of school available to students who may need them to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

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