2020 MAHPERD Award Recipients

Below are the 2020 MAHPERD Award recients.

The 27th Annual MAHPERD Honors/Awards Banquet will be on Sunday, September 13, 2020 at the DoubleTree Hotel, Milford, MA.

Advance Reservations only. The Awards Banquet will be at 10:00 a.m, brunch will be served.

For more information and to purchase tickets click here.


Joseph McKenney Award - Mary Connolly

Mary is the Program Chair of the Skills-Based Health/Social Emotional program at Cambridge College. At the college, Mary is responsible for delivering quality programs for students seeking a Master of Education Degree, online health and physical education certificates, and a certificate for physical educators who are being asked to teach health but do not have the background.

She is also a health education consultant and has helped many Massachusetts districts transform their curriculum from content based to skills-based. Recently, she is working with a teacher training institution to help transform their teacher training programs from content centered to skills/SEL based.

She is the author of Skills-Based Health Education, second edition, published by Jones and Bartlett and is working on her third text, Teaching SEL in the Skills-Based Classroom.

Mary presents at the annual MAHPERD and SHAPE America national conferences and has designed and presented several skills-based health education webinars. She served as the Chair of the SHAPE America Task Force on Social Emotional Learning and is a member of the SHAPE Professional Preparation Task Force.

Mary served on the committee that revised the National Health Education Standards and the Massachusetts Health Curriculum Framework. She is a member of SHAPE America, ASCD, and MAHPERD.


Honor Award - Carol Manning

Carol is the Liaison for Health and Physical Education in Worcester, MA. She received her Masters of Educational Administration from Worcester State University. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and Health from Indiana University where she was captain of the Women’s Swim Team. Carol had developed the philosophy that all students can learn and live life to its fullest.

Carol has worked developing many programs as a Physical Education teacher in Worcester from 1986-2014 from Special Olympics to Family Fitness Fun Night. Her fund raising efforts afforded a new playground for the school. She received grants for heart rate technology and equipment for her students to use. She worked very hard for the school to develop as a whole community involving teachers, administrators, students and the community in many activities over the years.

In 2014, Carol became the Liaison for Health and Physical Education in the City of Worcester, a part of the Office of Curriculum and Professional Development. She works with over 70 colleagues in over 70 schools to improve instruction for students through professional development. Professional development sessions included development of “Look for” in WPS Physical Education, UDL, UBD, SMART goals, Instructional Rounds, Cultural Diversity in Education along with developing WPS teachers’ abilities in presentations. The American Heart Association honored her with the “Heart of Gold” award for affecting school policy so all students in WPS grades 7-12 received training in “Hands Only CPR” each year.

She also knows that Worcester has amazing resources with which to work. As Carol understands the current changing trends in Health and PE, she works with community and school agencies from the Worcester Pirates and Railers and hopefully the new WooSox; WPS School nursing and nutrition, WPS School Safety Department to Worcester DPH and WPD Gang unit and community policing to make students safe and healthy. Community organizations such as 365Z, The 84, UMASS Extension and UMASS Tobacco Free Community Partnership, the WISH Coalition, Special Olympics, AHA, Worcester Impact for Sexual Health, Project Here and others help to keep the WPS staff up to date and on top of current changes in Health Education

As a member of Worcester's CHIP (Community Health Improvement Plan committee) she sees health and physical education from many sides. Most importantly, Carol believes that Physical Education and Health Education is an integral part of the CORE curriculum and it is her responsibility to educate 25,000 students of the Worcester Public Schools through the efforts of the outstanding teachers, important community partners and continued parental support In Worcester.


Health Teacher of the Year - Jeff Bartlett

Jeff Bartlett is a health education teacher at the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers, Massachusetts, where he has been teaching since 2008. Jeff completed his undergraduate studies at Springfield College and earned his master’s degree from Boston University. An experienced skills based health educator, Jeff enjoys collaborating with other education professionals as part of a vast online professional learning network.

At Holten Richmond, Jeff serves on the Project HAWK anti-bullying committee, helps oversee the LGBTQ+ Alliance, and is a member of the Danvers Social Emotional Learning Steering Committee. Additionally, Jeff is an adjunct faculty member in the Skills Based Health Education/Social Emotional Learning department at Cambridge College. His principal/assistant principal license (5-8 level) is pending through DESE. After school hours, he enjoys coaching cross country and track & field at the high school level at Danvers High School.


Amelia Riou - Phil Leonard

Phil Leonard currently serves as assistant Director of Adapted Physical Education, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy at the New England Center for Children (NECC), a renowned global leader in education for children with autism. In that role, Phil leads the adapted physical education program, including all curriculum development, and oversees strategic collaboration among the OT, PT and APE teams to ensure alignment of services to students.

A licensed physical education teacher with more than 10 years of experience teaching adapted physical education, Phil has also helped to develop many student teachers who are now successful professionals in the field.

Phil graduated in 2010 with a master’s degree in physical education from Bridgewater State University (BSU). He began his teaching career at NECC, where he has worked throughout his tenure in a variety of roles to elevate and champion the importance of adapted physical education programming.

Phil completed his master’s thesis at BSU and examined the efficacy of using a video model and physical prompting hierarchy to improve aquatics skills for two students with autism. He presented this research at the Spring 2018 SHAPE America Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. He makes regular presentations at the MAPHERD Adapted Physical Education Conference. In addition, he has collaborated with other professionals in the field and APE discipline, to organize this biannual professional development conferences for APE and PE professionals from Massachusetts and the New England region.

Phil currently resides in Attleboro, Massachusetts with his wife Kate and son Finn.


Elementary PE Teacher of the Year
Rob Tatro

Rob Tatro has been the elementary physical education/wellness teacher at the Sunita Williams Elementary School (formerly the Hillside Elementary School) in Needham for the past 19 years. He started his career as an elementary and adapted physical education teacher in the Scituate Public Schools prior to coming to Needham and his career spans 23 years in total.

Rob graduated from Bridgewater State College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Physical Education. He completed his Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from Lesley University in 2000. Rob is the most senior member of his elementary physical education department in Needham and recognizes that his current and former department colleagues have all had meaningful impacts in his development as a physical educator. He has served as a mentor for the Needham Public Schools for many of his current and former elementary physical education colleagues over the years and has worked closely with Dr. Deb Sheehey and Dr. Karen Richardson in the development of their student teachers in both the pre-practicum and practicum settings at Bridgewater State University.

Within the Needham Public Schools, Rob has been a leader within the specialist community and recently served on Needham’s district negotiation committee to help advocate for specialist area teacher interests. As a result of his work there, he now chairs a districtwide elementary specialist scheduling committee which is tasked on working with administrators to help develop guidelines that will support the creation of fair and equitable elementary specialist schedules moving forward.

Outside of his district, Rob recently presented two educational gymnastic progression presentations with dozens of his students at the annual MAHPERD convention in the fall of 2018 and is hoping to bring these presentations to the SHAPE national convention in Baltimore 2021. He is also currently working on an article he hopes to submit for publication with SHAPE (the Society of Health and Physical Education) detailing his work in the Crossfit community as a certified Crossfit Kids and Level One Crossfit Instructor.

Rob has been a leader in the field of recreation as well, firstly in his hometown of Medfield where he as served as an elected Medfield Park and Recreation Commissioner for the past seven years and secondly in the sport of disc golf holding several leadership positions such as the Past President and Past Vice President of the New England Flying Disc Association as well as being an appointed member of the Borderland Disc Golf Committee.

Outside of school, Rob is the loving husband of his wife Sharon of 21 years and is the proud father of his son Scott (20) who enters his sophomore year at Bentley University and his daughter Rachel (18) who enters her freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design. Together they enjoy being season ticket holders of the New England Patriots, traveling all over the country trying to visit each of the 30 MLB stadiums (16 down, 14 to go), while taking their adventures abroad in search of memories and experiences which will last them more than a lifetime.


High School PE Teacher of the Year
Sarah Bixby Centric

Sarah Bixby Centric started her teaching career in 2005 at Shore Educational Collaborative teaching both general physical education and adapted physical education for students in Pre-K through grade 12. In 2008 she began teaching physical education at Amesbury High School and has been their ever since. From the moment Sarah stepped foot on the Amesbury High School campus, she has brought her passion for quality physical education and curriculum writing. In her years at AHS, Sarah created and introduced new physical education courses, allowing students to personalize their physical education experience. Students have been able to take courses such as Fundamentals of Movement, Yoga & Mindfulness I and II, and Advanced Conditioning. Sarah’s passion and commitment to the relevance and importance of individual lifelong fitness has resulted in a significant shift in how students and staff view physical education at Amesbury High School.

Sarah believes that her role as a Physical Education Teacher is to inspire personal growth through the deliberate creation of successful experiences for all students. She believes that students learn best in an environment that promotes non-judgement, personalization and choice. Amazing things happen when quality of movement and physical literacy are valued and celebrated over athletic achievement, the playing field is leveled and all students feel safe and welcome to participate. 100% participation is the responsibility of the teacher and is achievable everyday by meeting students where they are through movement modification and personalization. She believes that movement modifications and personalization inspire resiliency and spark participation.

In addition to teaching, Sarah has been coaching swimming for 19 years and currently coaches for SOLO Aquatics. Sarah is the head age group coach for SOLO and their mindfulness specialist where she works with their National Team and Olympic hopefuls on developing mindfulness strategies to improve athletic performance.

Over the past 15 years Sarah has written and received various grants enabling her to integrate the newest trends and technology into her physical education classes. Sarah has proudly served on the MAHPERD board as Adapted Vice President Elect and Adapted Vice President. She has presented at MAHPERD and at the USA Swimming New England Girls Leadership Summit. Sarah has presented on various topics during in district professional development.


Outstanding Future Professionals


Matt DeGrandpre - Springfield College

Matt DeGrandpre is a current senior at Springfield College studying Physical and Health Education, where he is also a member of the PEHE club. He has been named to the Dean’s list during numerous semesters while at SC. He has also been a member of the Council of Future Professionals Committee for the past two years, and has collaborated with peers from other colleges to present at the 2018 & 2019 MAHPERD convention.

Matt has also been involved in gymnastics for over 15 years, and is currently a member of the Springfield College Men’s Gymnastics team and was a former member of the Student Athlete Leadership Team on campus. Along with the team, Matt has helped run and organize many different volunteering opportunities. In recent years, he has worked in various capacities as a coach at different summer camps and local gymnastics clubs. Coaching gymnastics is where Matt fostered his inspiration for teaching.

Currently, Matt is completing his practicum for both physical education and health at Bellamy Middle School. He loves being able to promote health and wellness each day, and build connections with the students he works with. In the future, Matt looks forward to continuing his profession, by teaching at either the middle or high school level. He is extremely grateful to be receiving this award.


Hannah Florek - Westfield State University

Hannah Florek is a junior majoring in Movement Science with a concentration in Elementary Physical Education at Westfield State University. She is an active member of the Physical Education Club on campus as co-president of the club. Hannah has been named to the Dean’s list all five semesters that she has attended Westfield State University. She is also a member of the Women’s Track and Field Team at Westfield State where she runs the 600-meter and 800-meter run. Outside of school, Hannah coaches and referees soccer to children ranging in age from 3-12 at Roots Athletic Center located in Westfield, Mass. As a future professional, she wants her students to find a love for physical activity so they can pursue healthy and active lifestyles..


Gianna Marie Napoli - Springfield College

For as long as she could remember, Gianna wanted to be a teacher. She is currently a senior at Springfield College earning a dual degree in Physical Education and Health Education. Physical Education was always her favorite class, and she was involved in numerous sports from a young age. After stepping foot on campus for a tour, Gianna knew she would be calling Springfield College her home for the next four years. This school has provided her with the opportunity to pursue her passion of physical activity and lifelong wellness. She has earned Dean’s List every semester since the start of her undergraduate career and currently maintains a cumulative GPA of 3.8. During her time at Springfield College, Gianna has been a member of the Springfield College Women’s Lacrosse Program, secretary of the PEHE Club, and an employee of Alumni Relations and the Athletic Department. Gianna would like to thank her family, friends, coaches, professors and mentors for the endless support and guidance they have provided during her time at Springfield College. As a future educator, Gianna hopes to have the same positive impact on her students, as her teachers once had on her.


Matthew Dionne - Bridgewater State University

Matt is a senior at Bridgewater State University and is from Middleboro, Massachusetts. He is pursuing a second career and majoring in Physical Education at the secondary level. He credits his family for their support and encouragement in following his purpose. Matt is an active member of the MAHPERD council of future professionals, helping to implement workshops at the conference to aid students’ preparation for the PE MTEL test. He also volunteers his time in the community of Bridgewater where he coaches youth track & field and cross country running. Matt is incredibly grateful to his professors at BSU as well as the MAHPERD board for receiving this award.


Craig Alan Bren - Salem State University

Craig Bren is currently in his senior year at Salem State University and is enrolled in the 4+1 Physical Education Program with a 3.718 GPA. Craig has made the Dean’s List in every semester with the exception of one semester while his youngest son William was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for stage IV kidney cancer. Instead of allowing this to be a distraction to his studies he used it as motivation to show how others how to deal with adversity and went on to start a Pan-Mass Challenge team that raised over $67,000 for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund. Craig visited the Massachusetts State House to advocate for quality Physical Education throughout in Massachusetts with other MAHPERD students. Additionally, he is a well-respected volunteer youth football, baseball, and basketball coach in the city of Gloucester and has been for the last seven years. He has coached multiple championship teams including a first ever Super Bowl appearance for the team’s youth football program and back to back championships for the youth basketball program. More importantly he is a positive role model for the young athletes that he coaches and has built significant relationships with his athletes. Craig will graduate with is Bachelor Science Degree in May and proceed directly into his graduate year completing his Masters by May 2021. Craig is extremely enthusiastic about teaching physical education, positively impacting children, and contributing to the community.