Geneva School District 304 News Article

Geneva 304 PE Staff Receive Elementary Teacher of the Year & Blue Ribbon Awards

Mike Graham Elementary PE Teacher of Year 2019

Dec. 9, 2019

Geneva 304 PE staff have been recognized with two awards by The Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance — including Teacher of the Year and Blue Ribbon. Williamsburg Elementary School PE teacher Mr. Mike Graham was named Elementary PE Teacher of the Year, and for the third consecutive time, Geneva Middle School North received Blue Ribbon designation by IAHPERD.

Both awards were formally presented to Geneva 304 staff during the IAHPERD Awards Ceremony on Nov. 21 at Pheasant Run Resort.

The Elementary PE Teacher of the Year award is given in recognition of outstanding instructional performance for elementary physical education as well as in adapted, dance, health, and leisure education, according to the IAHPERD website. Elected individuals have shown their great ability to motivate today's youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

This award reflects Mr. Graham’s passion for supporting student health and well-being, according to Williamsburg Principal Dr. Julie Dye. 

“Mr. Graham continuously seeks out new ways to instill a love for movement and physical fitness through his program in ways that are engaging, challenging, and a lot of fun for students! He encourages students to engage in enjoyable physical activity outside of school as well, asking them to track their minutes on calendars he sends home,” Dye said. “By making PE classes appealing and encouraging students to incorporate physical activity outside of school, the hope is they will continue to value and include physical activity into their lives as adults,” she added.

From left: Superintendent Kent Mutchler, GMS North PE Teachers Janet Nothnagel, Liz Assell, and Principal Larry Bidlack.The Blue Ribbon Award that Geneva Middle School North received recognizes excellent physical education and health programs in schools. GMS North has earned this award three times, and 23 middle schools in Illinois have been awarded the Blue Ribbon, according to GMSN North PE Teacher Ms. Janet Nothnagel. The five-year status for North lasts until 2024.

“It is a rigorous process that IAHPERD only awards exemplary programs that provide effective physical education programs which provide their students the knowledge and skills to lead a healthy life,” said Nothnagel, who also is a Blue Ribbon evaluator. “Research shows that students who lead a healthy, active life do better academically in school and have fewer absences.”

Nothnagel said this award that not only recognizes the collaboration of the entire PE department — including Liz Assell, Tom Gates, Chris Westerhoff, and herself — but also the administration — including Principal Larry Bidlack, Assistant Principal Karen Kim, and Dean Kylee Nosalik. 

Congratulations to these PE teachers for their hard work to help our students lead healthy, active lives!

To learn more, visit

Print This Article