EDINBURG – Project Fit America recently announced that two coaches from the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District were selected for the 2018 National All Star Teacher of the Year Award.

Physical education teachers Betty Kennan and Ray Dennis Morales from Ramirez Elementary School were among three coaches from across the country who received the prestigious awards for 2018. Over the last 29 years, only 85 PE teachers have earned this award.

“Well, this is an incredible honor. It’s a surprise for sure,” Kennan said “This school is an amazing school. We have a wonderful principal. I work with an amazing coach, Dennis Morales. Being able to work alongside him and this principal, is a wonderful opportunity."

“I’m surprised and very humbled. It just goes to show that the hard work that Coach Kennan has put together is paying off and not so much for us, but for the kids,” Morales said. “They’re the ones that benefit at the end. We tell the kids, ‘You know, you got to work first, before you reap the benefits.’”

Kennan and Morales learned about the award during a surprise ceremony at the school’s gymnasium.

“Our coaches are so committed to their job. What they do comes from the heart,” Ramirez Elementary School Principal Clarissa Ramirez said. “They do it out of love for kids, insuring that our kids know how to stay healthy and how to be good students.”

According to Project Fit America, trainers who work on site at each school nominate teachers they find excelling exceptionally well in project development. The nominated teachers are invited to submit their lesson plans, teaching philosophies and how they are using the Project Fit America (PFA) program at the end of the year.

“Coach Betty and Coach Dennis stand out as head of the class,” PFA Executive Director Stacey Cook said. “They have the spirit, energy, dedication and commitment that earned them the status of National All Star. They are outstanding role models for their peers and the physical education profession.”

PFA is a national nonprofit organization that creates sustainable and innovative broad based fitness programs in schools.

For nearly 30 years, Cook said that they have donated the PFA program to more than 1,000 schools in 300 cities and 46 states thanks in part to grants from several foundations.

The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation in Harlingen is the official sponsor of the PFA program for the Rio Grande Valley.

“This really reflects the type of work that we like to be involved in,” said Alberto Espinoza, an evaluation specialist from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. “They’re definitely creating a culture of health here in the Valley by just helping all these children lead a healthy lifestyle.”