Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State grad named University PE Teacher of the Year

February 18, 2014

It's an award as big as Texas.

Indiana State University alumnus José A. Santiago has earned recognition as University Physical Educator of the Year from the Texas Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Association.

Santiago completed a master's degree in physical education (exercise science) at Indiana State in 1996 and serves as an assistant professor in the physical education teacher education program at Sam Houston State University. He has served students at the Huntsville, Texas institution for the past four years and is coordinator of the university's physical education teacher education program.

Santiago said his teaching philosophy is built upon a humanistic approach.

"It's really important for me to learn the names, interests, strengths, preferences and abilities of my students quickly, and then we can begin to know and understand one another," he said. "I'm a student-centered educator; I like to provide practical, hands-on experiences to my students and give them the tools to succeed in the real setting."Santiago said he is grateful to receive the award, describing the honor as the high point of his career to date.

"I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this award. It means so much to me as I always want for my students to learn," he said.

While at Indiana State, Santiago served as a graduate teaching assistant and a part-time instructor. He taught physical education activity classes such as basketball and volleyball. He served as a graduate assistant in the biomechanics laboratory and collaborated on several biomechanical research projects that resulted in co-authorship of several international presentations and publications at the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports. He also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Sycamore volleyball team.

"I will always feel a strong connection with Indiana State University," he said. "ISU provided me with a strong and solid education in exercise science. The faculty were caring and nurturing and always modeled professionalism and good teaching behaviors. My mentor, Dr. Al Finch, has been and continues to be very influential in my professional career and success."

After graduation from Indiana State, Santiago served as assistant volleyball coach with Julio Morales at Rice University from 1996-2001, when he accepted a position as an elementary physical education teacher in Houston in order to spend more time with his family. He later became coordinator of elementary health and physical education for the Houston Independent School District, where he coordinated 185 elementary school physical education programs.

Finch, professor of kinesiology at Indiana State who specializes in biomechanical sport analysis, said he is proud of Santiago's accomplishments, whom he described as a collaborative colleague and friend.

"To have experienced such success as a Division I volleyball coach in one of the strongest conferences in the United States, distinguished himself as a leading public physical educator in Houston, completed his doctorate when English was his second language, and now having embarked on a very successful university academic career is a testament to his dedication, work ethic, and passion for teaching physical education," he said.

"From the first day I met him, I knew that his drive to learn about human movement and his interest in teaching pedagogy would make him a special physical education teacher," Finch said. "Dr. Santiago's dedication and success in the teaching profession makes ISU very proud to be able to claim him as one of our graduates."

Santiago is a native of Puerto Rico. In addition to his master's degree from Indiana State, he holds a bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras and an educational doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Texas Southern University.

Photo: - Jose Santiago, who completed a master's degree in physical education (exercise science) at Indiana State University in 1996, poses with his University Physical Educator of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education and Danne.

Media contact and writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or