MILLBURN, NJ - Arvin Arjona of Millburn High School is being honored as the Eastern District Dance Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators at its 130th National Convention & Expo in Seattle this week.
SHAPE America’s Eastern District represents 11 states from Maryland to Maine, including the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance and the ability to motivate today's youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity through dance.
Arjona, a dance education teacher at Millburn for the past seven years, will vie with one other district winner for the distinguished honor of National Dance Education Teacher of the Year. At the convention, SHAPE America and SPARK & Sportime – innovators of equipment and evidence-based programs for physical educators – will celebrate the 26th anniversary of this Teacher of the Year awards collaboration.
The National Dance Education Teacher of the Year award recipient will be announced on Friday, March 20 at the SHAPE America Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by Human Kinetics, an employee-owned company committed to serving the physical activity field. U.S. Olympian Dick Fosbury and Kenneth H. Cooper, the “father of aerobics,” will also be inducted into the SHAPE America Hall of Fame that evening.
Millburn High’s dance program consists of a physical education option, extracurricular courses, a dance club and participating in the school’s dance company with two seasonal concerts a year. “I want my students to honor their own cultures and gain a sense of appreciation for other cultures and traditions,” said Arjona, who teaches West African, Chinese Fan Latin dance, Modern Dance, Jazz Dance, Ballet and Hip Hop Dance in his classes. His students also participate in a two-day choreography workshop taught during PE. The award-winning educator uses mass media to share examples from the various dance icons and trailblazers in the profession.
“The pillars of Millburn’s dance program are discipline, dedication and passion,” said Arjona’s colleague Ellen Hayes, an English teacher at Millburn High. “Because of these expectations he has of his students, Arvin’s dance teams have gained much respect over the years.”
Arjona's honors include an invitation in 2014 to bring eight of his students to participate in the Pearl Harbor Parade and an additional show that honors the military every year. In 2014, he was named New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NJAHPERD) Dance Educator of the Year.