Tusculum College will have a presence at the upcoming national convention of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) through a presentation by Dr. Kirpal Mahal, professor of physical education, and Katherine Shelton, a student from Dandridge majoring in sports science.
Dr. Mahal and Shelton will be presenting, “Many Stressors – One Remedy: Breath Control with Yoga” as part of an intensive all-day workshop on March 31. The presentation is part of “Health/Wellness with Dance in Mind,” a full-day session focusing on critical health, nutrition, somatics and conditioning issues for dance and physical educators. Emphasis will be given to the best and safest ways to prepare for dance and performance.
A group of six additional Tusculum students will be attending the national convention, to be held March 31through April 4 in Tampa.
Attending the national professional conference has three primary benefits for students, said Dr. Mahal. First, he continued, there is the learning aspect – the students attend presentations and learn the latest developments in the profession. Secondly, students can get a first-hand look at sports facilities and their operation in tours of sports facilities in or near the city hosting the convention, he said. Students have had the opportunity to tour professional sports facilities during past conventions.
A third and very important benefit to attend conventions is the opportunity for student to meet leaders in the physical education, health, recreation and dance professions, he said. Networking and getting to know these leaders can help the students as they continue their education in graduate school, he added.
Students who attend the convention have the desire to go back and become leaders on subsequent trips, guiding those who have not been to a convention, Dr. Mahal said. Tusculum College students have received compliments from other educators and professors at the conventions as well. Last year, Dr. Mahal had another convention attendee comment to him that “your students are very articulate and very nice.”
Taking students to a national convention requires much work, but it is enjoyable and worth it in the satisfaction it brings in helping students learn and grow, he said.
About 7,000 professionals attend the convention from not only across the country but also from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Dr. Mahal has attended the national AAHPERD each year since 1974, when he came to the United States from his native India to pursue a master’s degree in physical education.
As an educator, Dr. Mahal noted, the conventions are part of his professional development, as the presentations and workshops help keep him apprised of the latest developments in the profession, which he then can share with his students.
Dr. Mahal has been a presenter at the national convention in the past, has served on the executive committee of one of the associations that is a member of AAHPERD and recently completed a two-year term on the awards and nominating committee of another.
Through his participation in the professional associations and conventions, Tusculum College is gaining a higher visibility, he said, noting he frequently gets e-mails from professionals and educators from across the country that he has met through the associations or conventions.
The College has supported his and student trips to attend conferences, Dr. Mahal said. The College is providing funding for Dr. Mahal and Shelton to attend the AAHPERD convention, and Dr. Mahal has received funding from Tusculum College and the Appalachian College Association (ACA) to attend four ACA conferences and workshops.