The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW instructor pushes students toward healthy lifestyles

By Bethany Peterson/nw news editor

NW health adjunct professor William McAdams was inspired to teach health after a short career in baseball as an infield coach and scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Corban La Fon/The Collegian
NW health adjunct professor William McAdams was inspired to teach health after a short career in baseball as an infield coach and scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Corban La Fon/The Collegian

Back when health just meant a person was not sick, William McAdams, NW Campus health/physical education adjunct professor, became aware of the benefits of wellness and began sharing them with others.

Now that wellness, the idea of physical, social and spiritual well-being and their impact on the body, is gaining recognition in corporations, schools and the private sector, McAdams continues to share his knowledge with new audiences, more receptive than previous ones.

McAdams said he first became interested in health as a job while attending junior college in Phoenix. It started simply enough.

During McAdams’ first year there, his baseball coach went down the line of players asking each one what they were studying. All the players either said business administration or physical education.

“The guy next to me said business, so I said physical education,” McAdams said.

He enjoyed the health class he had to take for that major. He eventually decided the health stuff was the important part that makes people live longer and better, he said.

After a short time on a Florida minor league baseball team and then coaching in-field and scouting for the Pittsburgh Pirates, McAdams returned to school for his degree, then a master’s and, in 1976, his doctorate from Virginia Tech.

He also received his first big boost in the barely emerging world of health and wellness.

His doctoral dissertation researched the link between the amount of health and wellness information high school students retained and the effect of certain variables on their retention rate.

He randomly selected 27 Virginia schools, quizzed students on their knowledge of health and wellness and questioned their teachers about their qualifications, the classroom setting and the class content.

He found that when health education class was combined with P.E., students knew less about health and spent more time with a bat and ball. The teachers had health material, but many chose not to teach it.

Students with teachers trained to teach only health also made higher scores on their quiz.

His dissertation was passed on to Virginia’s health and physical education department head by one of his faculty advisers.

“[The HPE department head] thought my dissertation and research was good and that there was a lot of credence in what I had done,” McAdams said. “She adopted it as a state guideline.”

The Virginia school board separated P.E. and health classes and raised the certification requirements for teachers wanting to teach health.

After getting his doctorate, McAdams and his family moved four times in five years before they arrived in Gaston County, N.C., where McAdams coordinated health education in the district’s secondary schools from 1981 to 1985, his busiest and most satisfying years, he said.

His job as coordinator also began to open up other venues to educate the community about ways to improve health.

“I worked with teachers, providing them with necessities to teach health education,” he said. “As a spin-off, I did a lot of speaking at PTA meetings.”

Community members began asking him to speak at other meetings.

One day, he was asked to do a talk at a local library on hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), its effects on people and ways to prevent it.

“I thought it would be five or six old ladies,” McAdams said.

Was he surprised. The day of the event, the library’s large meeting hall was packed.

“There were people hanging from the chandeliers!” he said.

The newspapers did not miss the event either.

“Next day’s headlines were ‘Dr. McAdams expounds on hypoglycemia,’” he said.

McAdams also spoke through a weekly column in the Gastonia Gazette called “You and Your Health.”

During this time, McAdams got a call from the Lenoir County Telephone Company asking him to present a stress management seminar to its employees.

“I said sure, but I had never done one,” he said.

He did some research and presented a program that became so popular many churches, companies and organizations asked him to present it to them. He published it in his book Controlling Stress.

He also created his own business, Health Related Fitness Inc., doing health consulting work with area corporations “trying to explain how a healthy employee was a benefit to the bottom line.”

To top off the already full load, McAdams and his wife opened a health food store, Natural Food Shops Inc., and ran it for about five years.

“My wife ran [the shop] while I was out preaching to people and training teachers,” McAdams said.

Businesses were usually interested in what he had to present, but many executives could not grasp how his ideas would benefit their business.

“I was way ahead of my time,” he said. “I was talking about a concept they did not understand.”

There was also some trouble in the community about who was the real doctor. McAdams’ doctorate and the way he always talked about health confused many people into thinking he was a medical doctor. The fact that the doctor who “delivered the babies” was also named McAdams further complicated the problem.

After four years in Gaston, McAdams moved his family back to Virginia to be closer to his parents and to enter his four growing children in a better school system. He continued to teach in colleges and schools in Virginia and South Carolina.

He also worked with Peter Bensinger and Robert DuPont, future founders of the corporate wellness company Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, when they were working for the Drug Enforcement Administration. McAdams traveled a circuit teaching substance abuse prevention seminars to employees and signs of substance abuse to supervisors and managers including a session in 1988 to the U.S. Senate staff in the Capitol Building.

McAdams taught some especially memorable seminars at nuclear power plants.

He would wake early to be on time to his first session. On the way to the plant, he could see a huge dark steam cloud billowing out of the plants, he said.

Someone told him that just breathing the air in the plant was like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

“It was an eerie sensation, being a health nut like I am,” McAdams said.

Last year, McAdams moved to Texas to be closer to his grandchild and began teaching on NW Campus.

Ron Morgan, NW Campus health and physical education assistant professor and the man who hired McAdams, said he was excited to hire so qualified a teacher.

“With that immediate contact [with the health and wellness industry], I was overwhelmed that he wanted to teach here,” Morgan said.

Morgan was impressed not only by McAdams’ credentials but with what he had done with them.

“He [McAdams] has not been sitting down with his doctorate,” Morgan said.

“He was always out in society working with individuals and groups.”

McAdams’ experience and familiarity with the topics he teaches also help his TCC students.

“He knows the stuff,” said Seham Aboellhasan, one of McAdams’ students. “He doesn’t have to look in a book [for his material].”

She also finds confidence in the faith others have put in McAdams’ knowledge.

“People asked him to speak because he’s that good,” Aboellhasan said.

McAdams has taught in educational institutions and every other setting available all over the eastern U.S., but he has not lost his passion for teaching.

“You start learning when you start teaching,” he said.

And he still feels that he runs a little ahead of most of the world, looking at the next step that’s just beyond others’ sight.

“Maybe I’m meant to spread the word,” McAdams said.


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