RANDOLPH, NJ- The Board of Education listened to a presentation regarding health and wellness. Middle school Principal Dennis Copeland, Vice Principal David Kricheff, Athletic Director Jesse Spencer and Assistant Athletic Director Marybeth Foran provided an update on the middle school’s wellness program.
This is the second year that the middle school is focusing on the “Whole Child.” This concept consists of four areas: Academics, Learning environment (the physical space both inside and outside of the building), Social-Emotional development and Wellness.
The principals and directors provided a wellness recommendation to change how physical education and health are delivered at the middle school.
“This is my 15th year in the district. For the first 12, I was one of the health and physical education teachers at Ironia. So this is something that is near and dear to my heart,” said Kricheff.
The middle school wants to focus on the student’s wellness that consists of a combination of mind, body and spirit, which is a concept the middle school’s staff wants students to embrace. The principals looked into recommendations from experts.
The sergeant general recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity a week. There will now be 250 minutes of wellness at the middle school each week to make sure students are being involved in active exercise. This also encourages student to have one hour of activity each day.
Currently, the middle school has three quarters of the school year dedicated to gym practices and physical education. For one quarter of the year students are in health class.
“The message we feel students are receiving is that it is very important to be active except when it’s not, when we remove you from that setting. We don’t want that to be the message. We want them to see it is important all the time,” said Kricheff.
When the school looked into the program they identified a problem the students are not receiving any kind of physical activity in their school day for a whole quarter of the year. This can also become problematic for the other three quarters when things like weather keep students from being able to go outside and be active.
It was announced Tuesday night that the plan of action is to create a wellness class that will be a combination of health and physical education. The class will ensure that every student be active every day.
Each class will have approximately a hundred students for each of those groups. At least 10 students will be pulled out to go to band or choir (also a new change for 2015/16 school year.) The music groups will be pulled out twice per week.
Some ideas the school is looking at for the program is to have the students go everyday to the gym, get changed and then go to their squad spots with the same teacher for the year. Then they will have an activity, which will either be a 10-minute span or the whole 35 minutes. This gives the teacher flexibility on how they will incorporate the health component of the school’s curriculum into the physical education rooms.
Other ideas included taking the students into traditional classrooms. Twenty-five or 30 of students will be brought into a room with a sign-in sheet.
Another idea was for a big group instruction that will consist of all the students and a class presentation. The students may be able to go to the auditorium or media center for different calm activities. This will leave room to decide when there is undesirable weather outside to pursue health lessons.
“The health and physical education teachers asked me what this meant because at the first meeting not much was said. I didn’t say much because I didn’t want to tell them what to do. I wanted them to brainstorm. I didn’t want this to be ‘Dave’s program,’ I want it to be our program together,” said Kricheff.
However, the teachers still needed some guidance. Kricheff provided the board with two out of the four examples he gave his teachers. The first example would take health students into a traditional classroom. The period would have them go to a gym, get changed, participate in a warm-up then one of the teachers take 20 to 30 of the kids into the classroom for a health lesson while the remaining students participate in the physical education class.
It will be at the teacher’s discretion on how many times a week the student will be taken out of gym for health depending on the topic and lesson.
Another idea was that health could be delivered in group lessons. Students may come in the gym, get changed, do warm-ups, then travel to the auditorium or media center for their health presentation. Teachers may take all of their students or half of them. Days could be alternated if the teachers decide to take half the class.
The staff came back to the principals with their own example. Students would change daily, have a daily warm-up, then that group would be divided into three. Each group becomes a health group for three straight weeks. The first two weeks will deliver instruction and the last week they will do some kind of problem based learning centered on the health unit.
“They shared some other ideas. So they’re really starting to think about how they can be flexible in their delivery. There are definitely a lot of ways on how they can deliver this instruction,” said Kricheff.
The school has not decided on any final recommendation yet. Other ideas will be furthered evaluated until they find the right fit for their students. The wellness program is start in September 2015.
Jessie Spencer , the Athletic Director for the district spoke at the meeting as well.
"There are so many correlations between health and fitness. Sometimes the things we learn in the heath room are lost by the time we get back to the gymnasium," said Spencer.
The wellness program concept is meant to be similar to a lab. The student would go to class, in this case the gym, then go to the lab, in this case health class, and then return back to the class.
The program gives teachers the flexibility to fit the health curriculum into the physical education program. The lessons taught in health can be immediately applied to the student's physical education.
"We had good feedback at our department meeting. I think it's really going to allow our teachers to come together and figure out how to take the wellness idea and bring that into a whole student, whole body experience. I'm excited to see where it goes and how we'll be able to incorporate all things together," said Spencer.