College of Education Alumna Wins Mabel Lee Award

Erin Centeio, who earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction for The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education, is one of the recipients of the 2018 Mabel Lee Award. The award will be given through the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America). Centeio is now an assistant professor and program coordinator of the physical education-physical activity leadership program at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and research faculty for the Center for Health and Community Impact.

Erin E. Centeio
Erin E. Centeio

How She Began Working with Children

Centeio found her love for teaching while student teaching as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. While completing her master of science, also at the University of Illinois, she confirmed her love of teaching health and physical education.

Centeio now focuses on preparing future physical education teachers to teach quality physical education and implement comprehensive school physical activity programs. Additionally, as part of her research, she works with schools to adopt a culture of health and provide opportunities for students to be physically active and eat healthier.  She believes by living a healthy lifestyle, children are able to perform better academically, have better sleeping habits, less stress, and lower anxiety and depression.

“Working at the K-12 level, the most rewarding experience is seeing the impact you can have on youth. Teaching youth how to live a healthy and active lifestyle is my main goal,” says Centeio.

Doing What She Loves

Centeio is now a chair of the Curriculum of Instruction Special Interest Group for SHAPE America, secretary for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group 93: Research on Learning and Instruction in Physical Education, a co-principal investigator for Building Healthy Communities, and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Teaching and Physical Education. She also works with the Danialle Karmanos Work It Out program and reviews for many journals within her field.

“What I love about higher education is being able to prepare teachers to go out and have an impact on youth,” said Centeio. “If I’m teaching elementary or high school, I can only impact the kids I see on a daily basis. But as a professor in higher education, if I can influence even one more person to be a quality physical educator, I’m able to have a greater impact on children.”

Receiving The Mabel Lee Award

The Mabel Lee Award recognizes young members of SHAPE America who have “demonstrated outstanding potential in scholarship, teaching, or professional leadership.” As one of two recipients of the award at the college and university level, Centeio says she was very honored to be recognized for her contributions and impact to the profession.

Receiving the award, says Centeio, “motivates me to keep giving my all to the profession and continue impacting teachers who will move on to share their passion for healthy lifestyles and create lifelong physically literate individuals.”

Words of Encouragement

“Sometimes people have a false perception of quality physical education,” says Centeio. But she advises educators to “be proud of your profession and be proud that you have the chance to make change in the lives of children.”