On December 10, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2020 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the nine honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.


Name: Michele Pacheco

Occupation: Physical Education Manager, Fresno Unified School District

Nominated by: Department of Kinesiology

As a student athlete in middle and high school, Michele Pacheco experienced the joys and challenges of physical education. It was these experiences and her amazing coaches and physical education teachers that encouraged her dream of becoming a physical educator herself. Now, she is able to make that same positive impact for the lives of thousands of children. 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at Fresno State, Pacheco was recruited to teach physical education at Sunnyside High School in 1999. She has worked in Fresno Unified School District ever since. Her passion for education even earned her an esteemed “Teacher of the Year” nomination in 2013.  

Three years ago, Pacheco was promoted to physical education manager at Fresno Unified. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing and facilitating the K-12 physical education programs and the comprehensive sex education program for almost 74,000 students. 

“The numbers and the needs of this extremely diverse student population can be overwhelming at times, especially with the added stress of working in the environment of COVID-19, but Michele remains a positive and invaluable resource,” said Dr. Nicole Smith, faculty fellow of the Central California Children’s Institute. 

Pacheco says she finds inspiration by the professionals in each school that are finding creative ways to overcome the challenges posed by social distanced teaching.

“Watching a student become successful in a task or activity makes it all worthwhile,” Pacheco said. “Seeing the smile on their face when they learn to throw a football, master a swimming stroke, or overcome their fear of the water brings me tremendous joy!”

Pacheco stays connected with the Department of Kinesiology at Fresno State by providing internships, service-learning projects, and professional opportunities for students and faculty alike. Up next for Pacheco is implementing a joint grant by Kaiser Permanente, with Fresno Unified and the Central California Children’s Institute, to incorporate heart rate monitors at all Fresno Unified high schools – a project Pacheco says will give physical educators an extra tool to promote health and exercise among students. 

The 2020 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. To register, visit bit.ly/CHHS-Heroes2020 For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.