Teacher education proves valuable

Written by Observer editorial reports January 20, 2011 02:57 pm
Teacher training can pay big dividends, whether a person pursues a career at a school or works in some other area altogether. Proof is Doug Trice. The local Special Olympics coach who has been named assistant coach for the Team USA track and field squad at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, trained to be a teacher at Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University) in Monmouth. After graduating in 1974, however, he landed a job with Union Pacific Railroad, where he has worked ever since. A co-director along with Pam Thompson of Special Olympics Union County, Trice has been a volunteer with the program almost 15 years. The payoff? Seeing the personal growth his athletes make. He said everyone learns in a different way, some verbal, some visual, and his approach to successful coaching is to be patient and flexible.

The bigger point is, whether a person lands a teaching job or not, teacher training can pay rich dividends in stocking the area with volunteer coaches, 4-H leaders, community education teachers and so much more.

Congratulations to Trice for the honor of helping coach the Team USA track and field squad in Athens. And thanks to him and all the other “teachers” out there who may not be seen in school classrooms but are nonetheless making a big difference in the community.

‘Hold the fries’

The USDA has not always been on the cutting edge of nutrition. Its food pyramid, for example, has been lambasted as way behind the times in trying to take a dent out of the national obesity epidemic.

Now, however, there may be hope. Proposed new standards for school lunches would have school kids eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and holding the french fries. Before we get up in arms about Big Brother telling us what to do, let’s examine those arms. A little wiggly, right? Perhaps in need of a tuneup. Face it, many of us treat our cars better than we do our bodies.

Childhood obesity is a big problem. It has tripled in this country over the past 30 years. One in five children is overweight and on the path to diabetes, heart disease and soaring medical costs. Since many kids consume as much as half their daily calories at school, and schools are supposed to be educational institutions, what better place for school children to learn how to eat right for slim and trim bodies and peak-functioning minds?

Sure, many schools have already done much to make lunches more nutritious. But the fight against obesity is just beginning. Schools should get in the forefront of this fight to help kids build good physical activity and nutrition habits that can stick with them for a lifetime.