Dr. Virginia Politano is a full professor in the Department of Physical Education and Recreation at North Carolina Central University. A member of the department since 1984, she teaches courses in Motor Learning, Motor Development, Adapted Physical Education, Exercise Science, and Event Management, among many others. Since coming to NCCU twenty-four years ago, Politano has revised the undergraduate physical education curriculum, totally revamped the graduate program in Adapted Physical Education, served as chair of the department, and mentored junior faculty members. Additionally, she regularly teaches from four to six classes a semester and advises over seventy undergraduate and eight to ten graduate students each year.
Because she grew up in a small, coal-mining town in West Virginia where opportunities were limited, Politano developed an early love for physical activity and, with the encouragement of excellent teachers, determined that she would teach physical education at the college level. In terms of her philosophy of teaching, Dr. Politano believes that "teaching is empowering students to assume responsibility for their own learning, inspiring intellectual growth, cultivating curiosity, and providing opportunities for developing relationships." Devoted to the training of future teachers, Politano received two personnel training grants from the U.S. Department of Education to train minority adapted physical educators; three of the students who completed NCCU's master's program under the auspices of this grant went on to obtain a Ph.D. in adapted physical education and are now teaching at the university level. Her students note that Dr. Politano has high expectations of them, yet they consistently praise her for her special combination of disciplined academic rigor and compassionate and caring personal attention. As one student told her, "I'm so glad you were so tough on me as I have now accomplished my goal of becoming a teacher." One of her former students writes of Dr. Politano's influence on her: "As a current teacher myself, I now strive to model the same exceptional classroom management skills, instructional techniques, willingness to work hard, and excitement [that] she did for us at NCCU."
Politano's commitment to North Carolina Central University's outreach to the local and state community is also well established. She worked with the Durham Parks and Recreation Department to develop an after-school program for children with disabilities that was held in NCCU's L.T. Walker Physical Education and Recreation Complex, a program that continued for ten years. Additionally, Dr. Politano is president-elect of the North Carolina Association of Athletics, Health, Physical Education and Recreation, an organization in whose conferences she encourages her graduate and undergraduate students to participate. Politano's own research and scholarship are closely related to her goal of increasing the professional development of her students.
Politano earned her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Physical Education from Marshall University and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University, specializing in adapted physical education, motor development, and motor learning.