ML Award

Pam Best, retired Mars Area Elementary School health & physical education teacher.

Pam Best, a retired Mars Area Elementary School health and physical education teacher, has been selected to receive the 2019 American Heart Association Faye Biles Education Award.

The national award, named for an early implementer of the association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraising program, recognizes a Jump Rope for Heart coordinator who has been instrumental in implementing a school-related American Heart Association program.

“(Best) encompasses everything (the association) asks for in our volunteer coordinators for our youth programs,” says American Heart Association Youth Market Director Brad Cavanagh, who nominated Best for the award. “She has been a strong supporter of our mission, our education efforts and our fundraiser for 29 years.”

In the past 29 years, Best has helped collect more than $331,000 in donations to benefit the association through Mars Area Elementary School’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser, which asks students in second through fourth grades to collect pledges for the number of times they could jump a rope in their physical education classes.

In addition, Best implemented heart-healthy education in her classes, teaching her students about the importance of being active as well as the positive impacts of proper nutrition, hydration and sleep habits, says Cavanagh. Retirement hasn't slowed her down, and she he continues to promote health as the coordinator of the Mars Stars Jump Rope Team, which she founded in 2012.

Each year, the Mars Stars Jump Rope Team offers demonstrations and performances for students in local schools, as well as at events throughout the community. Team members also participate in various local and regional competitions.

A Mars Area graduate of the Class of 1976, Best holds a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Slippery Rock University.

She joined Mars Area School District in 1987 as a health and physical education teacher at Adams Elementary School and Middlesex Elementary School before moving to Mars Area Elementary School when the two schools were consolidated in 2004. Best has also served as a volleyball, baseball, track and field, and softball coach in the district.