HES Professor and Alum Recognized with Teaching Awards

Professor Aaron Banks and alumna Kirsten Thisius Guentzel ’10 won awards at the 2019 MNSHAPE Conference on October 17.
Posted on October 24th, 2019 by

Professor Aaron Banks and Kirsten Thisius Guentzel '10 with their MNSHAPE awards.

Professor Aaron Banks and Kirsten Thisius Guentzel '10 with their MNSHAPE awards.

Gustavus Adolphus College was well represented at last week’s Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators’ (MNSHAPE) 2019 awards ceremony as Health and Exercise Science Professor Aaron Banks received the organization’s Lou Keller Award and alumna Kirsten Thisius Guentzel ’10 was named the Minnesota Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

Professor Aaron Banks

Professor Aaron Banks

Banks’ Lou Keller Award honors and recognizes outstanding services and contributions given by a college or university professor or other professional worker in the fields of health, physical education, recreation, or dance as exemplified by Dr. Lou Keller, former professor at the University of Minnesota. Now in his 18th year as a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Banks’ educational and scholarly interests focus on best practices and methods for general instructional strategies, curriculum development, and quality assessment design within physical activity settings.

Outside of traditional classroom teaching, he has led over 300 Gustavus students on international study away courses during the College’s January Interim Experience. The course, titled Olympic Quest, investigates the history of the ancient and modern Olympic Games by connecting students with cultural, philosophical, societal, and athletic experiences that focus on the impact that the Games have had on the development of Western civilization.

“I was honored and humbled to receive this year’s Lou Keller award and am thankful for the colleagues that support my efforts here at Gustavus,” Banks said. “I am surrounded on a daily basis by individuals that make me better, that help me serve others, and that motivate me to work on behalf of those less fortunate.”

Kirsten Guentzel ’10

The MNSHAPE Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year is presented annually to an MNSHAPE educator worthy of honor and recognition for their outstanding service and contributions in elementary school education. Guentzel, who teaches general physical education and health courses at Sibley East Elementary in Gaylord, Minn., is also certified in Developmental/Adapted Physical Education (DAPE). An emerging leader in the national SHAPE America organization, she has presented numerous times at conventions across the country and advocated for federal funding for physical education and health programs in Washington, D.C. Guentzel is an active grant writer who has also served as the co-chair of the elementary division of the Minnesota Department of Education’s Physical Education Standards Review Committee and was recognized nationally by SHAPE America for piloting a new program called “health.moves.minds.” at Sibley East Elementary.

“Gustavus professors in the health and physical education (HPE) major gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone to try new things,” said Guentzel, who has also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato. “Dr. Bonnie Reimann, Dr. Aaron Banks, and Dr. Karl Larson got me involved with our state affiliate, MNSHAPE, for professional development opportunities and establishing new relationships with colleagues in the field. They taught me that no matter how many years of experience I have, there is always room for more learning.”

“At Gustavus, we are blessed to work with talented individuals who will positively influence the lives of youth and adolescents in the coming decades. Part of that work is instilling a sense of advocacy within our HPE graduates. These individuals go on to lead lives of excellence. They serve their communities and justly consider the unique needs of all students,” Banks said. “Kirsten is a shining and fearless example of what it means to selflessly serve one’s profession and students. She is a courageous advocate that promotes the wellbeing of youth and adolescents.”

“I never stop, settle, or coast in my career,” said Guentzel, whose goal is to see all children become physically literate individuals who enjoy active lifestyles. “There is always something new happening in my classroom and it’s a great feeling to see children experience success as I continue to show staff and students how physical education has transformed over the last 10 years.”

Visit the Gustavus website to learn more about the Department of Health and Exercise Science.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


One Comment

  1. Sharon Brite says:

    So well deserved! Congratulations, Aaron and Kirsten!