School Specialty: Sportime and SPARK celebrate 25 years of honoring top physical educators with Teacher of the Year Award sponsorship


Dionne Manchester
GW Communications (for School Specialty)
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 212-786-6068

Six Extraordinary Teachers to be Recognized at the SHAPE
America Hall of Fame Banquet at the 2014 AAHPERD National
Convention & Expo

GREENVILLE, Wis., March 31, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sportime and
SPARK, the premier physical education brands of School Specialty Inc.
(OTCQB:SCOO) (“School Specialty” or “the Company”), a leading
distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and
services to the education marketplace, will be celebrating the Silver
Jubilee sponsorship of the District and National Physical Education
Teachers of the Year (TOY) at the annual American Alliance for Health,
Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) National Convention
and Expo taking place April 1-5, 2014 in St. Louis, MO.

For the last 25 years, Sportime/SPARK/School Specialty in conjunction
with AAHPERD, has served as an exclusive sponsor in recognizing
outstanding teaching performance and ability to motivate today’s youth
to participate in a lifetime of physical activity — making it one of
the longest running sponsorships in the physical education field. Since
its inception in 1989, Sportime/SPARK has supported the Teacher of the
Year program with more than $1.3 million in direct corporate

Duane Puckett, School Specialty’s South Regional Vice President
commented, “Over the past 25 years Sportime, SPARK and School Specialty
have been proud to exclusively sponsor the AAHPERD Physical Education
Teacher of the Year awards. This long-standing partnership demonstrates
our commitment to promoting quality instructional practices in physical
education and providing state-of-the-art, age-appropriate equipment and
solutions. It is truly our honor to be associated with AAHPERD in
supporting schools and students and of course, recognizing today’s best
PE educators. We trust that our continued involvement will help to
advance the Teacher of the Year program and nurture tomorrow’s
instructional leaders.”

To help celebrate the quarter-century mark as the leading sponsor,
Sportime/SPARK will be presenting one previous Teacher of the Year
honoree with $2,500 in products for their school or a school of their
choice if they are not presently teaching. Every past District Teacher
of the Year for adapted, dance, health and physical education attending
the Hall of Fame Banquet at the AAHPERD National Convention, will be
entered in the drawing. The lucky Teacher of the Year will be drawn
following the announcement of the new 2014 National Teachers of the

“On behalf of physical education teachers across the country, I would
like to thank Sportime/SPARK for their unwavering commitment to
physical education over the past 25 years,” stated E. Paul Roetert,
Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of AAHPERD which is newly named the
Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America).
“Sportime/SPARK’s devotion to the professional development of physical
education teachers over all these years has been fantastic. Through
their efforts, hundreds of thousands of physical educators have
improved their knowledge and skills. It is a true honor to have
Sportime/SPARK as a partner in this venture. We look forward to
partnering for many more years to come in our combined efforts to
support the field of physical education.”

In sharing some of their transformative experiences, past Teachers of
the Year John Hichwa (1993) and Mary Hirt (2002 and 2003) commented:

I taught for 35 years as a physical education teacher in the K-8
setting and always promoted the importance of physical education and
integrating it into the school culture. The TOY program provided the
opportunities to interact with thousands of teachers and share my
knowledge and skills. Throughout my career I had the privilege to
present at more than 650 locations — traveling to 49 US states as well
as France, Portugal, Singapore, Japan, India, and Bermuda. I’m
especially proud to have had the opportunity to advance the PE program
at the John Read Middle School which remains at a very high standard
today, as well as the opportunity to start the Project Adventure
program in Redding, CT which received national recognition. The real
winners have been the students and I’m so happy to have been a part of
transforming their lives.

John Hichwa (TOY 1993)

The Teacher of the Year honors, in particular, have offered me the
opportunities to share ideas, exchange practices and learn from my
peers — it has been an extremely rewarding experience. The ability to
meet like-minded professionals has and continues to fill my tank of
creativity and pushes my skills to become an even better educator. I
continue to engage with my colleagues to drive enhancements at our
larger school and district level; to experiment with new curriculum,
practices and teaching strategies that reach more students; and to
incorporate technology into instruction and for student access to
content. I’m honored to have received the Awards and the chance to make
a difference in children’s lives.

Mary Hirt (TOY 2002 & 2003)

Mr. Puckett continued, “To the hundreds of outstanding state, district
and national Elementary, Middle School, High School, Dance and Adapted
Teachers of the Year who have been so deserving of this recognition
since 1989, we thank you each personally. Thanks for your passion to
improve the health of our nation’s kids. Thanks for your
professionalism and focus on elevating best practices. Thanks for being
the role models and mentors that you are and for conveying the passion
to excel to the outstanding physical educators of the next generation.”

More than 5,000 health, physical education, recreation, dance, and
sport professionals are expected to attend the 2014 AAHPERD National
Convention & Expo, which will showcase 200 leading product and service
providers that offer a full spectrum of resources and innovative ideas
to the industry. Olympic legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee will be this
year’s special guest and will be inducted into the AAHPERD Hall of
Fame. For more information on AAHPERD and the Convention, please visit

About Sportime, SPARK and School Specialty, Inc.

Sportime and SPARK are the two premier physical education brands of
School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of innovative and
proprietary products, programs and services to the education
marketplace. School Specialty designs, develops, and provides educators
with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both
curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in
collaboration with educators, the Company reaches beyond the scope of
textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school
administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full
potential. For more information about School Specialty and its brands,