Nancy KamstraNancy Kamstra

Recently retired Hope College professor Nancy Kamstra has been named University Educator of the Year by SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) Michigan. She received the recognition at the same time that the statewide organization honored two of her students — seniors Clayton Dykhouse of Zeeland and Emily Dieffenbach of Grand Rapids — with Future Professional of the Year awards.

All three were presented their awards on Thursday, Nov. 2, during a ceremony honoring educators at the elementary, secondary and collegiate level that was held in conjunction with the 2023 SHAPE Michigan Convention in Lansing.

Kamstra retired from Hope this past May as an associate professor emerita of kinesiology instruction after a 41-year career as a physical education and health educator at the college and with Zeeland Public Schools.  At Hope she specialized in classes for students preparing to become health-education teachers, in addition to teaching First-Year Seminar and Health Dynamics courses open to all students.

Both Dieffenbach and Dykhouse are majoring in physical and health education, and each praised her for her mentorship as they discerned their interest in the major and related careers, and for her skill as an instructor.

“I had the honor of having Professor Kamstra as my adviser once I switched to a physical and health education major,” Dieffenbach said. “We often met outside of class for coffee to talk about life and non-school related things. She has made such an impact on my life in and out of the classroom.”

“I was fortunate enough to have multiple classes with Professor Kamstra, from Intro of Teaching Health to Data Assessment to Health Education Methods. These courses have all permanently impacted me as a future educator,” Dykhouse said. “Nancy Kamstra’s ability to instruct, guide and mentor while challenging us to think outside of the box was something that occurred daily.”

Kamstra’s impact on the college’s academic program also included creating the college’s health minor in collaboration with colleagues in Hope’s Department of Education, with the program growing from seven students at the beginning to more than 30 at the time of her retirement.  In addition to her teaching, she worked with Hope’s athletics department, presenting information to 22 teams on drugs, alcohol, mental health and consent.

Kamstra joined the Hope faculty full-time in 2010 after having served as an adjunct professor since 2004.  From 1982 to 2010, she was a physical education/health and learning disabilities teacher in the Zeeland Public Schools at both the elementary and secondary level.  She received the college’s Vanderbush-Weller Award for strong, positive impact on students in 2018, and the Excellence in Advising award in 2020.

She graduated from Hope in 1982 with a teaching certificate in physical education and special education-learning disabilities and a minor in psychology.  She graduated from Grand Valley State University with an M.Ed. in 2008 with an emphasis on health.  The topic of her thesis was that the choices someone makes in high school and college will affect their lives forever.

Dieffenbach, who is also minoring in Spanish, hopes to teach at the high school level, teaching physical and health education as well as adaptive physical education.   She participated in a study-abroad program in Barcelona, Spain, in the summer of 2022, and in a May Term in Alaska this year.  Her activities at the college have also included serving as president of the Sibylline sorority, Immersion trips with Greek Life and Campus Ministries, serving as a residence-life assistant, intramural sports, Student Congress, the kinesiology club, Bible study and the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish National Honors Society.  She is a 2020 graduate of Forest Hills Northern High School.

Dykhouse would love to teach health and physical education at the primary or secondary level. He also plans on being involved in coaching at the high school level. He is a letter-winning member of the college’s men’s basketball team, and senior is serving as a co-captain for a fourth year. A fifth-year senior, he has received recognition including being named an MIAA Athlete of the Week in 2021 and 2022, on the All-MIAA First Team in 2022 and Second Team in 2023, and on the D3hoops All-Region Second Team in 2022.  He is a 2019 graduate of Zeeland East High School.

SHAPE Michigan seeks to promote healthy, active living through professional development and advocacy, to help foster a society in which all individuals in Michigan enjoy an optimal quality of life through appreciation of and participation in active, creative, health-promoting lives.