Long time Los Lunas PE teacher retires

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The Los Lunas School District lost a dedicated and innovative physical education teacher when Sundance Elementary teacher Dave Hinman retired this spring.

Hinman has been a physical education instructor in the Los Lunas School District for 23 years, and has taught elementary school PE for 31 years.

Submitted photo: Sundance Elementary physical education teacher Dave Hinman retired this spring. He has been with the Los Lunas School District for 23 years. Hinman, his wife, Laurie, and family dog, Whisper, have moved to their summer home in Colorado.

His approach was to teach children the skills they need for a lifetime of physical activity, done in a safe manner, for optimal health results.

Hinman incorporated his knowledge of exercise physiology and taught his young protégés how to use equipment, such as a heart-rate monitor to measure their pulse during an activity, with the goal of keeping their heart rate in what is called the “target zone,” the ideal zone for strengthening the heart, but not fatiguing the heart, he said.

They learned how to use pedometers and calculate the calories of what they ate against the calories they burned while walking or running.

“The thinking is, if I introduce this to children at an early age, they have these skills to use as an adult,” Hinman said.

They also learned how to use a compass, navigate around a compass course, how to ride a mountain bike and take care of their bikes, how to in-line skate, like roller blading, and learn to use a climbing wall, as well as develop the skills for various sports games.

Health and wellness were a major part of Hinman’s instruction, rather than a game-based approach.

His criticism of the games-based model of physical education instruction is that in one big class game, the students who are good at the game will be the dominant players, while the students who need the practice and want to practice never get to touch the ball, he said.

“My focus has never really been on developing athletes as it has been on allowing every child to experience as many different areas of physical education and physical activity as we can possibly fit in,” he said.

Students who have gone on to become track runners have learned from Hinman how to pace themselves using the heart monitors, and build endurance.

“Research tells us that longer duration activities are better for us than very short duration, high intensity stuff,” he said.

In 1995, Hinman was named Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

In 2001, while he taught at Katherine Gallegos Elementary School, the school received an award for physical education program of the year from the New Mexico Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Hinman became the executive director of the organization, and served for 13 years, until his retirement this spring.

He also chaired the Los Lunas School District physical education curriculum committee, and he has been involved in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart event for 27 years.

He coordinated fundraising events and turned each event into an educational experience for his students.

Hinman taught about the components of the heart, and created an activity where children played the red blood cells, carrying carbon dioxide and oxygen to a heart.

He would talk to them about such risk factors as high fat diets, smoking and a lack of activity.

Students learned about their own physiology in the simplest of terms so they could understand the dangers of unhealthy activities.

Their physical education classes gave them the tools to handle situations, such as where another student might ask them if they want a drag on a cigarette, Hinman said.

“They are now aware of what cigarette smoke can do to their body, and make an informed choice,” he said.

Between his time at Katherine Gallegos and Sundance elementary schools, Hinman coordinated 21 Jump Rope for Heart events in 23 years, and his classes raised more than $100,000 for the organization.

In 2010, Hinman was named Outstanding Coordinator for the New Mexico Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Over the years, the teacher has had a number of student teachers, and presently nine Valencia County physical education teachers fulfill their student teaching with him.

“All of them understand the skill-based model (of PE instruction), and most of them are utilizing it,” Hinman said.

Both educators, he and his wife, Laurie, moved to New Mexico from Massachusetts in 1984.

Hinman taught physical education at Manzano Day School in Albuquerque until 1989, when he was hired to teach at Katherine Gallegos Elementary in Los Lunas.

“In the Los Lunas Schools I felt valued,” Hinman said. “It’s a small enough district where if you need to speak with a superintendent, you can speak to the superintendent.

“You don’t get that at APS. I enjoyed the small-town nature of the community, and I enjoyed the families I worked with,” he said. “I’ve worked with some wonderful, amazing groups of children and some amazing families over the years.”

In 2009, Hinman went to teach at the newly built Sundance Elementary School.

He and Sundance Principal Mildred Chavez worked together at KGE, and she was enthusiastic for his approach to physical education, he said.

“She gave me unending support and freedom to develop a nationally recognized physical education program,” he said.

“Dave is and always has been a model PE teacher,” Chavez said.

“I never felt like it was work,” he said. “I really felt it was my calling.”

The Los Lunas School District gave him the opportunity to live and develop his dream, he said.

“I feel like a really blessed guy — I got to work for 30 years in the same profession,” he said. “It’s made me who I am.”

After 31 years in his field, Hinman began to think about retiring while he still had the stamina for the active lifestyle he espoused, he said.

The deciding factor came when he put his house on the market, expecting it to take months or years to sell, and it sold 45 minutes later.

“I do believe we all have to listen to our signals, and when a house in this market sells in 45 minutes — somebody’s trying to tell me something,” Hinman said. “I was on the fence about whether I would retire this year or the next, but when the house sold so quickly, that told me I had to strike when the iron was hot.”

He and Laurie have moved to their Colorado summer home they purchased eight years ago, and are enjoying trail running and mountain biking in the high mountains, he said.

In his retirement, Hinman will continue as the senior editor of the website, www.PECentral.org.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.