As a teacher and coach in a career spanning decades and continuing on in retirement, Mike Sinram has embodied true servant-leadership. He taught K-12 P.E. and health at Jesup Community Schools, plus junior high English and social studies, from his college graduation in 1975 until 1999. He added a variety of coaching positions to the mix and was honored as State Coach of the Year for boys’ cross country in 1990. “He challenged us to be better people in everything we did,” wrote a former student. “He knew what was happening in our lives outside of our sport.”

But Sinram would leave an even larger mark in the field of adaptive physical education, where he was especially gifted in working with special-needs students, first at the Grant Wood AEA and then West High and Central Middle schools in Waterloo. “He decided to devote his professional life to helping students with disabilities and became one of Iowa’s first adaptive physical education pioneers,” wrote a colleague. “He is the greatest motivational leader I have ever seen as both a teacher and a coach.”

Sinram’s passion to welcome and encourage every student is lived out in his work. “He is an advocate for inclusion to the fullest and practices that in each and every class at West High,” wrote his nominator. “His classes are designed so that every student can reach their full potential.” While at Grant Wood AEA, Sinram and the adapted physical education consultants reached out to retired engineers at Rockwell Collins to design adaptive P.E. equipment that can help special-needs students.

When it comes to learning, he pushed himself to continually improve upon what he was doing in the classroom. Sinram earned a master’s degree in physical education from UNI in 1985 and completed several instructor and training programs to enrich his teaching over the years. He generously has shared his knowledge with college students as an adjunct instructor for aspiring teachers at several Iowa institutions, including Wartburg. His impact in education also has been felt through his service and expertise on multiple boards and organizations.

In 1993, Sinram was a Governor’s Award Winner in Sport and Elementary Physical Education. He was honored as Iowa’s Adapted Physical Educator of the Year in 2002, and in 2015 received the Global Thinking Award in the Waterloo Community Schools. In 2016, just before his retirement from Waterloo Community Schools, Sinram received the highest honor from the Iowa Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. The association’s Steve France Lifetime Achievement Award honored Sinram for being an exemplary teacher and mentor to new professionals.

Outside of his career, Sinram has volunteered countless hours to youth sports in his community. His faith fuels his compassion and service to others in his church as well. At Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, he’s been active on boards and committees, as well as with Christian education and multiple church-affiliated service organizations.