Grant to Fund Physical Education and Wellness Inititative

Randolph, NJ, March 26, 2014 – Randolph High School (RHS) students will have a unique opportunity to take control of their physical education and increase their wellness and self-image thanks to a generous grant provided by the Randolph Education Foundation (REF) through its “Next Practices” Grant for the school district.  The REF will provide $6,550 for the purchase of Polar wireless heart rate monitors and licenses for the Polar GoFit app to be used in high school physical education classes and co-curricular sports.   

The idea for the pilot program entitled “Truly Differentiating the Physical Education Classroom” comes from Nick Albanito and Stephen Cullis, two Randolph High School teachers who collaborated on a fresh idea to empower students and engage them in their physical education classes through technology. Albanito, a physical education and health teacher, and Cullis, a Media specialist, proposed an idea to help students individualize and maximize the effects of their physical education programs through the use of fitness and health science technology.  

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In the program,  RHS students will have the opportunity to wear the polar heart rate monitor straps during physical education classes.  The monitors will send the students’ heart rates to the teachers’ iPads in real time,  allowing the teachers to give immediate feedback and coaching to the students to get them into their ideal heart rate range, maximize their workout and avoid injury.   In addition, the students will be able to see their own data while they work out, allowing them to adjust their activity levels on their own.  

“Students come to class with different body types, physical challenges, and physiological differences,” said Albanito.  “Currently, the students stop during their activity, take their pulse, calculate heart rate in their head, and then continue.  With this grant, we can automatically monitor this information in real time, allowing students and teachers to record and track the data over time to construct and modify a long-term wellness program.”

"Each marking period, students change teachers.  With this change, there is a risk of discontinuity of information regarding the student.  Having this data will allow teachers to share and continue collecting data even when the teachers change,” Cullis explained.  “In addition, coaches for after school sports would find this information especially useful in order to tailor workouts and not over stress the students’ developing bodies, maximizing progress and avoiding burnouts.”  

The REF established the “Next Practices” Grant in order to fund fresh ideas in education that aim to teach in non-traditional, innovative ways, bring additional rigor to the curriculum, enhance the relevance of learning for today’s students, and build relationships among teachers, students, administrators, and parents in the district.  The selection committee was appointed by the REF and included representatives from all six school communities and a cross-section of the Randolph Township business community.

“Physical education today stresses physical and mental wellness, with an emphasis on individual student needs,”  said Margaret Clark, REF president. “This program will give teachers the technology to assess student progress in an area that has traditionally not had such measures,  which makes this truly an innovative ‘Next Practices’ project. ”

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The Randolph Education Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable trust that provides alternative funding to support education and innovation in Randolph Township Public Schools. Launched in 2010, the REF relies on donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. These donations are directly applied to vital educational programming for Randolph children.