Morales started out as a special education teacher and has taught physical education at Rio Vista Elementary in Tucson for the past 21 years.
“I believe in having fun and treating every one of my students as if they are the only ones in my class,” Morales said on his teacher website. “I enjoy a good joke and encourage humor in my class.”
Morales said Kicks4Kids provides at least two dozen pairs of new tennis shoes for entering kindergartners so that they might fully participate in physical education programs provided by school staff as part of the school’s healthy initiative, which also builds a positive self-image.
“As a Title I school, we have found most new students arrive with a single pair of shoes, boots or sandals, which are unfit for playground or physical education activities,” Morales said.
It is an extra financial burden many parents of kindergartners are not aware of, Morales said.
“A new pair of sneakers helps the family focus on other financial strains associated with starting out in organized public education such as school supplies,” Morales said.
Rio Vista Elementary School Principal Dianna Kuhn presented Morales with a certificate announcing him the winner of the AZEdNews classroom grant and the $200 grant check.
The AZEdNews classroom grant will supplement other ongoing collection activities already begun at the school for sneakers, socks and underwear, Morales said.
When students have proper footwear for a healthy lifestyle, they “tend to participate more fully, walk miles on our school track and participate in playground and physical education activities,” Morales said.
Rio Vista Elementary has raised funds for new sneakers for the past five years and has found an increase in physical education participation and in more healthy lifestyles, Morales said.
“We feel it is not a coincidence that our school has been recognized by the state for improved academics over this time period. There is a direct correlation, and common research backs up our findings,” Morales said.
“A healthy lifestyle also helps with a healthy self-image and our students report an increased feeling of self-worth with a new pair of tennis shoes,” Morales said.
Amphitheater Unified mandates physical education and a healthy school-wide initiative, Morales said.
“Our shoe collection has helped other schools in our district fulfill some of their goals in this area, and this grant will only increase our ability to ensure the priorities set by our governing board are fully met,” Morales said.
Please continue to apply for the AZEdNews classroom grant as a new winner will be chosen each quarter from current and previous entries.
AZEdNews Teacher Series:
Part 1: Small changes can create a safer, more inclusive, trauma sensitive school
Part 2: Film: Challenges of raising a family on a teacher’s salary continue
Part 3: Teacher training: Ways to help students
Part 4: How yoga helps students relax, focus, deal with stress
Part 5: School’s not out for teachers leading student learning activities
Part 6: What classroom supplies teachers buy and what they’d like for students
Part 7: Schools welcome back staff with rallies, learning opportunities
Part 8: New state funding helps Arizona Teachers Academy ease teacher shortage
Part 9: Possible changes ahead in what happens when a teacher leaves mid-year
Part 10: School leaders say better pay would attract more teachers
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AZEdNews ongoing teacher series