Alumni Feature: Garrett Garner

FOCUS ON HEALTH AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION

As a physical education teacher and coach, Garrett Garner makes it a personal challenge each day to make a difference for at least one child.

“It could be something as simple as motivating them through a difficult activity, or just commending them with a simple ‘good job’ for their effort,” Garner said. “I enjoy being able to make a difference for kids and help them stay healthy, and teaching them about healthy lifestyles.”

Garner teaches physical education and health for grades 6-8 in the Arkadelphia School District. He is also an assistant coach for the senior high girl’s basketball team and junior high football.

Garner graduated from Henderson State University in 2015 and played basketball for the Reddies for three years. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in sport administration at Henderson and aspires to become an athletic director.

By observing the daily routines of the principals, dean of students, and the athletic director, Garner said he has realized the opportunities beyond being a teacher or coach. “All of these occupations are something I could see myself doing some day,” he said.

Garner said he became interested in health and P.E. when he was in the fourth grade.

“My dad was on track to go into the same field of study, but decided right before his internship that he just didn’t want to pursue it anymore,” he said. “Part of me wanted to complete something that my dad never finished, and I believe, deep down, that my dad has some regrets about it every day, and I don’t want to live with that regret.”

Garner gives much credit to Henderson’s health and P.E. program for his success, and singled out Dr. Lynn Stanley, professor and chair of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department, for her support during some “tough times.”

“Dr. Stanley was someone from the first time that I met her that I knew she was all business,” Garner said. “But it was because she was going to find a way to pull the best out of you on a daily basis.

“I went through a low point in my student adventure at Henderson, and Dr. Stanley was there for me the whole way. She kept encouraging me and offered advice to help me achieve my goal of becoming a teacher.”

When asked to describe himself, Garner said, “I believe that I am caring and have a true passion for kids. I want to see them succeed. I feel like if I do not push my student-athletes every day to be the best that they can be, then I have failed as a teacher and as a coach.”

If he hadn’t pursued a degree in health and P.E., Garner said he probably would have chosen biology.

“When I was in elementary school, I always thought that I wanted to swim with dolphins and sharks, so I guess I always had an interest in marine biology,” he said.

Garner looks back at some of the challenges he overcame to reach this point in his career and has no regrets.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about coming to Henderson or all the difficulties that I went through, because I learned from each one of those struggles,” he said. “I am better for it today and will use my struggles to help others who I encounter with struggles of their own.”

• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson's outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.