MC's Pierce named Tennessee's top physical education teacher

Nov. 13, 2003
Karen B. Eldridge, Director of News and Public Information

Maryville College Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Outdoor Recreation Dr. Danny Pierce was named “Physical Education Teacher of the Year” for college and universities in Tennessee.

The award was announced Nov. 7 at the 34th annual conference of the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) held at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.

Pierce, who began teaching at Maryville College in 1998, was nominated by student Melody McGee. McGee said her professor “inspired students to be the best physical educators possible – to move, to bend, to get future students excited about physical education.”

According to Dr. Judy Stewart, chairperson of the TAHPERD Awards Committee, Pierce had to meet five criteria to be considered for the honor. The criteria stated that candidates had to: 1) utilize various teaching methodologies and plan innovative learning experiences to meet the needs of all students; 2) serve as a positive role model, epitomizing personal health and fitness, enjoyment of activity, sportsmanship and sensitivity to the needs of students; 3) participate in professional development opportunities; 4) provide service to the profession through leadership, presentations and/or writing; and 5) provide service to the community through leadership, presentations and involvement.

Along with personal and professional information, nominees had to submit at least three letters of recommendation from administrators, supervisors and professional colleagues and/or prominent officials who are in a position to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications related to the criteria for the award.

“It was a pleasure to present Dr. Pierce with the Teacher of the Year, College/University Award,” Stewart said. “His letters of recommendation were filled with praise for his dedication to his students, his professionalism and his energy and enthusiasm for his profession and work with students and colleagues. He was very deserving of this award.”

Calling Pierce a “credit to [the teaching] profession,” Dr. Terry Simpson, chairperson for Maryville College’s division of education, wrote that the assistant professor consistently receives high evaluations from his students but suggested that his greatest influence may lie in the area of professionalism.

“The PE/Health for Teacher Licensure students take great pride in their teaching field,” Simpson wrote in his reference letter. “The students attend professional conferences yearly, and they often make presentations at these conferences. As a result, they return to campus excited about their profession.

“The number of majors and the academic quality of those majors have increased over the past six years,” the chairperson added. “The program has become well respected on our campus.”

Pierce earned his doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Oklahoma State University. He also studied at the University of Kansas. His teaching credits include the development of “Wellness Wednesday” for his PHR101: Human Health and Development class, co-creation of the “B-Healthy” program for Blount County homeschool children, participation in training for the local public school district’s “Tribes” character development curriculum and the development and implementation of teacher training workshops and in-service for public school teachers through the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

He has worked with the American Red Cross for 10 years, being named the 2003 Outstanding CPR and First Aid Instructor by the Blount County chapter. He was presented the Frank Lupton Service Award by the Wilderness Education Association in 1998.

Pierce’s TAHPERD Award marks the College’s second from the association in three years. In 2001, student Chris Smelcer was named Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the physical education/health major.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.