How a Hanover PE teacher is helping students excel in other subjects

Posted at 1:18 PM, Nov 20, 2020

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- It may look like the kids throwing a frisbee outside at Battlefield Park Elementary are having fun, but they are also learning.

"We're going to work on our accuracy with our hula hoop targets," PE teacher Julie Hudnall said. “They're actually going to do a game called 'Alphabet Soup' where they earn a different letter of the alphabet by hitting the target and then they get a chance to spell words at the end."

It is part of a program she designed that earned her the first-ever Hanover County Public Schools Innovator of the Year Award in 2018.

"Our program is based on strictly kinesthetic learning. We like to incorporate counting, spelling, whatever they're learning in the classroom, various SOLs, into this atmosphere as well," she said.

Teaching physical education is one thing, but she's also challenging, inspiring, and engaging students using new and relevant ideas.

Third-grader Deklan Fearnow called Ms. Hudnall a great PE teacher because her lessons also help him with other classes.

"My favorite subject is math," Deklan said. “I like doing math because I'm really good at it.”

Ms. Hundall said her vision is to make physical education an innovative classroom environment that just happens to take place in a gym or outside.

"I mean, you're brain alone benefits," she said. "When you are moving and you've got exercise, your brain is like, off the charts. A lot of people like to call them brain breaks. We've kind of moved from brain breaks to brain boosts."

Building bodies need exercise.

This PE program is giving kids just that and at the same time Building Better Minds.

Watch for Rob Cardwell's education feature stories on CBS 6 News and If you know someone Rob should profile, email him at

Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News.