Archive for the ‘Physical Education News’ Category


Teacher Appreciation Week

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

teacher appreciation week

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

As a former PE teacher I can tell you that I never really thought about Teacher Appreciation Week until it came, and then the wonderful things bestowed upon us typically overwhelmed me. The PTA would organize some sort of food to be brought in for breakfast or lunch and we all felt very special. It is certainly a treat to be catered to! But what I will always treasure are the handmade books using the prompt “What do you love about PE?” Their pictures were adorable and the things they wrote often made me cry. I have been out of the schools for a few years now, but I have kept and cherished those books.

This year, Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2nd to the 6th. There are SO many things you can do to show appreciation to the teachers in your life. Here are a few ideas ranging from costing you nothing but a few minutes to those costing a few bucks. Whatever you do, if it comes from the heart, the teachers in your life will love it!

  • Have your child write a thank you card telling the teacher why they appreciate them. Drawings are always loved. You should write one too. Teachers love hearing kind words from the parents of their students.
  • Provide donations of classroom supplies, many of which can be purchased on the School Specialty website. Many teachers spend their own money to cover supplies for things such as art projects, class pets, bulletin boards, and more. Anything you can help with will be appreciated.
  • Offer to bring some healthy snacks for the classroom. (E.g. Oranges, trail mix, veggies and dip, popcorn, cheese sticks, apples, berries, celery with cream cheese/peanut butter, whole grain crackers, fig bars, etc.)
  • Volunteer some time in the classroom when you can, as teachers can always use help. Whether it’s putting homework and reminders into backpacks, teaching math or reading to small groups, being an art docent, helping with field trips, leading a physical activity, etc. your help is a welcome addition to the class. If you haven’t done so this year, start next school year right by talking with your child’s teacher(s) to see how your strengths can benefit the class.
  • Host a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast (or lunch). Make it a potluck with other parents from the school, and give teachers a clue it is coming so they don’t eat breakfast at home that day.
  • Offer to build a bulletin board one month in your area of expertise.
  • Have the students bring fresh flowers for the teacher toward the beginning of the week, and one parent per classroom is in charge of bringing a vase. Flowers from home gardens are perfect.
  • Take photographs of the children in the class to put on a poster. Then have each child write a few words of thanks next to their photo.
  • Create a video with each child saying or acting out something they appreciate about their teacher.
  • Purchase or make a large tote bag for hauling supplies to school. Then, using fabric markers, have all students write their names and a brief thank you.
  • Create a goofy class photo T-shirt and have the students sign their names on the back.
  • Purchase a gift card from anywhere! Teachers nearly always appreciate any little treat. Get something from a local coffeehouse, grocery store, restaurant, pedicurist, etc. Be sure to include a few words of thanks with the card.

Hope this year you enjoy the Teacher Appreciation Week and help make a teacher in your life feel special!

Sportime Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation in Physical Education

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Strengthens partnership with SPARK™ to offer one stop shop for evidence-based PE solutions 

 Sportime & SPARK to honor 2016 Teachers of the Year at the SHAPE America National Convention

GREENVILLE, Wis., March 23, 2016 – Sportime®, the award-winning physical activity equipment brand of School Specialty, Inc., is proud to commemorate 50 years serving physical education teachers, youth & recreation leaders and child care providers with the most advanced, research-based physical activity products and resources. In recognition of this milestone, Sportime continues to expand its offering and build its partnership with the SPARK™ (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) PE curriculum, launching the new “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront at Sportime.com.

Various events throughout the year will highlight the brands’ remarkable achievements, including the exclusive, almost 30-year exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America National Teacher of the Year (TOY) program, which will take center stage at the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo to be held April 5-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 1966, Sportime has remained committed to enhancing the health and wellness of our nation’s youth by helping them move more. Through expert-developed physical education, fitness and sports equipment, Sportime has offered creative solutions inspired by PE teachers supporting children of all abilities. Over the years, Sportime has grown from its humble beginnings as a supplier of products to the niche summer camp market to becoming a leading provider of recreational and sports equipment to the larger K-12 physical education and physical activity market. The brand also has evolved from exclusively providing supplies and equipment to offering coordinated PE and health curricula through its alignment with SPARK.

Reflections on 50 Years of Sportime: A History of Helping Kids to Keep Moving

  • 1966: Sportime is founded by Larry Joseph as the Select Service & Supply Co. in Atlanta, GA to supply products and equipment to summer camps in the Northeast region of the U.S.
  • 1972: Company founder Larry Joseph and future Sportime President Peter Savitz set their sights on expanding market opportunities for products.
  • 1978: Transition to larger education market is completed with the launch of Sportime’s first catalog aimed at the K-12 PE community.
  • 1989: Sportime evolves to offer coordinated PE and health curricula in conjunction with PE supplies and equipment, through its partnership with SPARK — best known for its evidence-based curriculum and teacher training that ensure all students are actively engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during PE classes. Sportime is selected as the official supplier of equipment used in the original SPARK research study.
  • 1989: Sportime and SPARK are awarded exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes outstanding teacher performance and ability to motivate young students to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.
  • 1992: Sportime offers other specialized solutions to encourage physical and mental ability in children. The Company produces its first Abilitations catalog for physical and occupational therapists helping children with special needs.
  • 1999: School Specialty acquires Sportime.
  • 2001: Special needs offering expands with launch of the Integrations product line, which provides solutions for sensory integration challenges.
  • 2002: School Specialty acquires the licensing rights to become the exclusive distributor of SPARK.
  • 2006: School Specialty adds solutions in speech and language by acquiring the Speech Bin.
  • 2016: “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront is launched, providing a single source for everything needed to teach physical education and physical activity, and promote lifelong health and wellness.
  • 2016: SPARK and Sportime acquire rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized nutrition education program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

“This is truly a momentous occasion as we look back on 50 years of an incredible legacy in enhancing the well-being of our children through the power of physical activity, nutrition and education,” commented Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “We have made tremendous strides in developing and delivering research-based tools and curricula, and shaping best practices and standards that support and motivate our youth, the future producers and leaders, to pursue active and healthy lives. We have seen first-hand the transformative impact this has had on teachers, students and their families, including lower obesity rates which in turn have reduced the burden that communities carry in dealing with related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. I’m enormously proud of our talented team and all their contributions to building the ground-breaking and holistic platform that Sportime, SPARK and now Healthy Kids Challenge is today. We look ahead to many more years of growth and success.”

 

Don’t Miss Sportime Featuring SPARK at the 2016 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo!

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Sportime and SPARK will be hosting a number of insightful presentations, product demonstrations, and fun drawings and giveaways at this year’s SHAPE America National Convention, the meeting place for educators and students in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance. Included will be special sessions with past and current Teachers of the Year; the Local Education Agency (LEA) Coordinators; and the SPARK Innovation Team, including Principal Dr. Thom McKenzie. Sportime and SPARK are also proud partners of the Let’s Move! Active Schools interactive session. Attendees are invited to visit the Sportime featuring SPARK booth (#401) and engage with the team during the Heart Zones and Speedstacks demos, as well as participate in daily games for a chance to win an Apple Watch and limited edition Sportime gear. Sportime and SPARK are especially honored to continue MVP sponsorship of the Convention, including the Hall of Fame Banquet where the 2016 Teacher of the Year winners will be announced.

“Celebrating five decades of Sportime is testament to the quality and depth of the brand and the people behind it who have been developing innovative physical education equipment for years,” stated Doug Welles, Vice President, Specialty Businesses. “Physical education represents one of School Specialty’s key growth initiatives and with Sportime, SPARK and the addition of HKC, we are uniquely positioned to offer our customers a blend of equipment and curriculum that fosters physical well-being and health. We continue to drive innovation in our offerings, support our customers with the domain expertise they require, and align ourselves with the right industry partners to help students and those responsible for their wellness. We look forward to the coming year and building upon our successes.”

For more information on Sportime & SPARK, go to www.Sportime.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sportime-ft-SPARK-Active-Healthy-Happy

SPARK Acquires Healthy Kids Challenge Program

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

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The world’s most researched physical education curriculum expands with integration of evidenced-based program for school nutrition and wellness.

hkc-logo2GREENVILLE, Wis., March 15, 2016 – School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education marketplace, today announced that its SPARK® physical education brand has acquired the rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

Founded eighteen years ago (1998) under the auspices of Cooking Light magazine and directorship of Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge has grown as an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to helping schools and community programs nationwide problem-solve barriers and create policies and practices in nutrition education. HKC has provided quality, research-based resources including training, healthy eating lesson plans, and activities that motivate wellness with interactive learning and goal setting. The program is aligned with the most current health education standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has built collaborative partnerships with leading organizations and professionals to serve hundreds of schools and thousands of children across the country. One of its many accolades is the Anita Owen Award for Most Innovative Educational Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American Dietetic Association).

Commenting on today’s news, Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK & Sportime, School Specialty Physical Education stated, “With physical activity and healthy eating going hand in hand, it has been an organic and instrumental partnership between SPARK and HKC since 2010. It seemed only natural that we combine forces in the areas of physical and nutrition education to further develop evidence-based wellness programs that help our children and families reduce their obesity risk and halt the development of serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have a costly impact on public health. The major appeal of the HKC curriculum has been its differentiated and validated approach and we praise the innovative and effective work of the HKC team for almost two decades. This new phase in the SPARK-HKC relationship greatly supports our mutual objectives to expand a curriculum-based physical education and nutrition/health portfolio with comprehensive solutions and services. We look forward to continued success!”

For more than 25 years SPARK has provided evidence-based physical education, after school, early childhood, and coordinated school health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Each SPARK program is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction.

Ed Carr, School Specialty’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, stated, “The physical education category is one of our key growth channels and with the addition of Healthy Kids Challenge, we significantly enhance our collective offering. With the increased focus on health and wellness across schools throughout North America, it has become increasingly important to provide educators with the evidence-based and innovative training, equipment and support resources that advance their efforts in nurturing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students, and by extension communities. This also ties nicely with our expanding Health Care initiatives through SOAR Life Products. We will continue to focus our resources on growing our proprietary SPARK and Sportime brands, while leveraging the Healthy Kids Challenge offering, and look forward to welcoming the HKC program to the SSI family.”

“To be able to make a difference in the world is so humbling and gratifying, and to see the Healthy Kids Challenge grow and be nurtured by great partners like SPARK who share a similar philosophy of providing behavioral and environmental change programs and care as much about children as the HKC team does is exciting,” stated Director and Creator Vickie L. James, RD, LD. HKC stands beside the SPARK program and School Specialty in supporting schools and youth initiatives across the country to ‘Take the Challenge’ and to serve as key ‘KidLinks™’ in providing solutions for students and their families to eat healthy, move more and enjoy a balanced life. As my colleague Claudia Hohnbaum (Assistant Director) and I look towards retirement shortly, we can feel comfort in knowing that the HKC program is in excellent hands under the SPARK umbrella. We look forward to seeing the HKC work expand and reach even more kids and families!”

With the dissolving of the Healthy Kids Challenge nonprofit, SPARK & Sportime will assume ownership of all educational materials and programs. The HKC staff of registered and licensed dietitians will continue to serve as training, mentorship and coaching resources for SPARK.

About the SPARK Programs

SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org.

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. Through its SSI Guardian subsidiary, the Company is also committed to school, healthcare and corporate workplace safety by offering the highest quality curriculum, training and safety and security products. Finally, through its SOAR Life Products brand, the Company offers thousands of products that sharpen cognitive skills and build physical and mental strength in fun and creative ways. From childhood through adulthood, they help individuals live life to the fullest – engaged, happy and well.  SOAR Life Products is a customized offering for hospitals, long-term care, therapeutic facilities, home care, surgery centers, day care centers, physician offices, and clinics. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

@SchoolSpecialty

Connect with School Specialty on social media; search School Specialty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For Ideas and resources, educational trends and inspiration for today’s educators – visit the Schoolyard blog.

PhysEdSummit 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I want to share a personal experience with you.  This weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone to present online at the #PhysEdSummit 3.0.  It was scary yet exciting all at the same time. The core team is so knowledgeable and helpful, and they really did put me at ease to present. There is a wide audience of passionate health and physical education professionals in the world presenting and willing to give their time, resources, and friendship to help move physical education forward.  While the conference was live on Saturday, the good work will continue long after!

We know the brain carries out four functions:  gathering information (sensory cortex), making meaning of information (back integrative cortex), creating new ideas from these meanings (front integrative cortex), and acting on those ideas (motor cortex) (Zull, 2003.)

So, here is how you can continue to be involved and keep the learning from the conference alive all year.  Visit the website and gather information!  Process it!  Then create new ideas on how you can use the information in your class or school; and finally, act …  Practice using the ideas as well as share the information.  Share the resources with your colleagues, administrators, superintendents, professors, friends, coaches and parents.  Maybe highlight one presentation each month all year long!  Regardless of how you do it, get involved and share your new concepts and ideas.  Then, present next year in the conference.

http://physedagogy.com/physedsummit/

SPARK also has free resources to utilize, like our free webinars, free SPARKecademy.org professional development app (free and paid content provided), the SPARK scope and sequence and completed alignment to national and state standards.  Visit us soon for a look!  www.sparkpe.org

Yours for Healthy Active Children,

Dr. Kymm Ballard

SPARK Executive Director

About the #PhysEdSummit

The #PhysEdSummit is a FREE online conference put on by PE professionals for PE professionals.

Mission: To provide digital professional learning opportunities for physical education professionals by sharing, discussing, and reflecting on best practices.

#PhysEdSummit 3.0 | August 15, 2015

http://physedagogy.com/physedsummit/

Let’s Go Back to School with SPARKecademy!

Monday, August 10th, 2015

SPARK has a great new resource for teachers looking for ways to earn professional development credit hours.  As a physical education teacher, it can be difficult to find opportunities for professional development that apply to your content area.  I am sure you been forced to sit through countless hours of language arts and math workshops just to fill the time because districts rarely provide any kind of continuing education for their physical education/health teachers.

Here is where SPARK would like to help fill the void.  We hear what teachers are saying and we know the limitations of finding where/when to get your PD credit hours.  That is why we have created SPARKecademy.  Here you can earn your credit hours anytime, anywhere that you want. Sit on your couch, jump on in the middle of the night, even view it on your phone or tablet when you are running errands.  SPARKecademy.org is a web-based platform that provides an innovative menu of online courses for K-12 physical education teachers and health professionals. Courses include SPARK K-12 PE Workshops, timely topic monthly webinars, SPARK mini-units, podcasts, and technology/equipment tutorials.  We are building our library to provide resources for all 5 of our program areas; Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, Classroom Activity & Recess, and Coordinated School Health.

Users receive a certificate of completion for each course and can track their professional development hours earned for the online courses as well as in-person sessions at SPARK workshops, and conference presentations.  Sign up your entire district and you can identify courses for your staff to take while being able to track and document their completed courses.  Sign up for your free account today! Go to SPARKecademy.org or download the SPARKecademy app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Learn more about SPARKecademy!

SPARK hosted a live webinar on August 19th to preview the resources available on the SPARKecademy website and learn how to set up your free account.

Click Here to view the recording of this free webinar.

More questions? Contact us at visit http://www.sparkecademy.org/about or contact us at spark@sparkpe.org.

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10 Ways to Promote Safe Biking for National Bike Month

Friday, May 1st, 2015

bike riding

Around the country, bicyclers have been supporting National Bike Month every May since 1956. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, May gives experienced and novice cyclists a chance to participate in bicycling events, try out biking for the first time, and promote safe bicycling practices. Want to participate in the fun? Here are 10 ways you can promote safe biking during National Bike Month.

Know and Follow Bike Safety Rules

Before you start having too much fun, you’ll want to review what safe biking actually entails. BikeLeague.org shares a list of safety tips and advice on how to maintain your bike. A few tips from their list to keep in mind include:

  • Keep your tires inflated to the pressure listed on your tire.
  • Inspect your brakes frequently to ensure they work properly.
  • In addition to always wearing a helmet, make sure your helmet fits properly.
  • If riding at night, be sure to wear bright and reflective colors.
  • When riding on a trail, stay to the right, pass on the left, and ensure you use a signal—such as a horn or your voice—to let other riders know when you’re about to pass.

Once you’ve reviewed these safety rules, be sure you’re following them at all times. Not only will it set an example for young riders, but it will ensure your safety along with the safety of others around you.

Help Educate Fellow Bikers and Non-Bikers About Rules and Etiquette

Now that you’re aware of common bike safety rules, you can share your knowledge with others. As you gear up for riding this May, make sure anyone else riding with you understands these safety rules. For instance, it might be a no-brainer to wear a helmet, but some riders—especially those who don’t bike often—may not know to call out “On your left” when passing other riders.

It’s also worth discussing these rules and etiquette with non-bicyclers as well. While they may never go riding, they’re likely to encounter other riders, and it’s worth knowing what “On your left” means before a biker passes you.

Print Out Promotional Materials to Share With Friends

If you’re not sure how you can help this National Bike Month, it’s as simple as printing out promotional materials and sharing them with family and friends or on promotional bulletin boards. These materials can cover anything from promoting biking events to sharing infographics covering safe biking practices. If you’re not sure where to get this material, check out BikeLeague.org’s promotional materials for National Bike Month.

Wear a Helmet

It’s one thing to know you should wear a helmet. It’s another to actually put it on. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports that bicycle helmet use can reduce head injury risk by 85 percent. While it may seem like you don’t need one since you don’t reach high speeds while biking, accidents between cars and bicyclists are a real possibility.

As the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reports, “During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.” This again highlights the importance of helmet use among riders of all ages.

Use Reflectors

PedBikeInfo.org reports that the most common source of injury for bikers is being hit by a car. On average, 69 percent of biker fatalities are in urban areas where there’s a lot of traffic. One way to add an extra layer of safety to your biking practices is to use reflectors. This will help drivers see you more clearly, especially at times of low visibility.

Most bicycles already come with reflectors, but it’s worth testing them out to ensure they function properly. You can also add reflector tape to your pedals and other areas of your bike to ensure a higher level of visibility. You might also consider an electric flashing reflector that will help drivers see you from a distance at night and in fog.

Keep Your Bike in Shape

Not only do you need to protect your body with a helmet and biking gear, but you’ll also want to protect your bicycle. A worn out bike can lead to faulty brakes, broken chains, and other problems that can cause wipeouts and crashes. A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep bolts, bearings, and chains greased.
  • Test your tire pressure frequently, and pump your tires if needed.
  • Before taking off, test your brakes. Replace your pads once there’s about a ¼ of the pad left.
  • Store your bike in a clean, dry place during the off-season to reduce rust and wear.

If all else fails, take your bicycle into a bike mechanic regularly to ensure everything is in working order. Check out more maintenance tips at REI.com.

Reach Out to Your Government for Better Biking Conditions

If there are a lot of people in your town who bike, it’s important that they’re biking under safe conditions. Oftentimes riders are left to share the road with cars, which can lead to accidents. Other times, sidewalks aren’t wide enough for bikers and pedestrians to share.

If you really want to make a difference this National Bike Month, talk with your local government about creating better biking conditions in your town, such as by adding a bike lane in areas of high traffic. Petitioning for bike lanes close to schools is a good way to encourage students to ride their bikes to school while providing a safe environment to do so.

Volunteer at a National Bike Month Event

National Bike Month is packed with fun events for bikers of all ages. May 15, for instance, is National Bike to Work Day this year, and May 6 is National Bike to School Day. Even if you can’t find a National Bike Month event in your area, you can always plan one yourself! BikeLeague.org shares a guide to helping you plan an event in your neighborhood. Some ideas include bike safety workshops, training classes, and bike races.

Host a Safety Assembly at Your Local School

Whether you’re a student looking to spread the word of safe bicycling or a concerned parent or teacher, you can reach a lot of potential cyclers by hosting a bicycling safety assembly at your school. See if you can get your local district to agree to a presentation. Share statistics, videos, and stories with students, and try to get both teachers and students actively involved.

Participate in a Ride Smart Class

The League of American Bicyclists has been focused on education since the 70s. Their Ride Smart class teaches bikers more about riding, and it helps connect them with other cyclists in their area. Take a look at BikeLeague.org’s map to find a Ride Smart class in your area.

We’re avid cyclists at SPARK PE and believe that safety is a priority for any physical activity. While bikers should be promoting safety practices all year round, National Bike Month helps raise awareness of these issues, and you can leverage this nationwide event to get the word out. What will you do this May to promote safe cycling practices?

Sources:

http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth

http://www.helmets.org/stats.htm

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bike-maintenance.html

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SPARK Announces Dr. Kymm Ballard as New Executive Director

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

SPARK is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Kymm Ballard as next Executive Director of SPARK!  As the world’s most researched and field-tested physical and health education program, SPARK is a key component of School Specialty’s Physical Education offering. Kymm assumes her new role as Executive Director, following her distinguished leadership in the program as Partnership Development Specialist since 2009.  Kymm succeeds Paul Rosengard, the SPARK “Godfather”, who recently retired.

“I would like to congratulate Kymm on her well-deserved promotion and have every bit of confidence in her ability to continue to enhance SPARK programs and our overall growth in the Physical Education (PE) category,” stated Ed Carr, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer. “Kymm has been a strong advocate for physical and health education for decades and brings tremendous operational and managerial experience that serves SPARK and School Specialty well.  I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Paul for his outstanding service to the program over the years.  We have a strong team in place and together, are committed to building upon SPARK’s leadership position in research-based physical education and advancing our wide assortment of physical education solutions.”

Dr. Ballard’s professional experiences include more than a decade as a PE teacher and athletic director, several years as an administrator and the co-developer of North Carolina’s first high school demonstration school.  She is the former PE, Athletics and Sports Medicine Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; and has drafted, advocated and promoted the Healthy Active Children Policy of the NC State Board of Education and the state’s Essential Standards for Physical Education. Dr. Ballard also supported the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport Management (NCAAHPERD-SM) to retool the physical education teachers with SPARK statewide training the trainer model, more currently known as “IsPod” (In School Prevention of Diabetes).

In providing guidance to schools and other national organizations to help secure resources for quality PE programs, she served as the President of the Society of State Directors for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, as well as the Chair for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) Public Relations Committee, among other committees. In addition, Dr. Ballard currently serves as the Coordinator of Health and Physical Education at Campbell University.  In her Partnership Development role at SPARK, she has also been successful in helping to initiate and facilitate millions of dollars to schools to address obesity prevention.

Among the many awards that Dr. Ballard has received are the National P.E. 4 Life Advocate of the Year award for her work in North Carolina and Washington, D.C.; the Physical Education Teacher of the Year and Health Education Teacher of the Year Awards in North Carolina; the North Carolina Coach of the Year; the highest Honor Awards from NCAAHPERD and Society of State Directors for Health, Physical Education and Recreation; the Channing Mann, National Administrator of the Year from NASPE; and lifetime membership to the North Carolina PTA.  She continues to be recognized by her industry peers, health organizations and her SPARK colleagues for her commitment to advancing physical fitness for children.

“I am honored for this opportunity to serve the SPARK program and School Specialty in an even greater capacity and will continue my focus on advancing our physical education solutions for educators and children. With the achievements that SPARK has made over the last 25 years in motivating students to engage in a lifelong love of activity and healthy lifestyle choices, I firmly believe we are well-positioned for future success.  I look forward to working more closely with the team to drive advancements in quality research-based physical education in schools and organizations around the country and world – with the goal of keeping our children and communities strong and productive.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Kymm is following in my footsteps and becoming SPARK’s 2nd E.D.!  Placing a physical educator at the wheel demonstrates SPARK’s commitment to developing the best PE resources and doing things the right way; for kids, for teachers, and for public health. I’m excited for our worldwide SPARK family and know SPARK will be bigger and better than ever in the months and years to come,” stated Paul Rosengard.

Please join us in welcoming Kymm as the new SPARK Executive Director!  Follow Kymm on Twitter @KymmBallard and stay up to date with all of the news from SPARK @SPARK_Programs.

Kymm and Annika

Kymm Ballard and women's professional golf icon Annika Sorenstam work together to promote healthy, active lifestyles for children

A Physical Educator Turns 60

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

By Paul Rosengard – SPARK Godfather

If you haven’t already heard, I celebrated my 60th birthday back in January.  And after 36 years in education – PHYSICAL education that is – I decided to hang up my sneakers.  This blog article gives me an opportunity to share a few lessons learned and thank a few of the MANY people who I’ve been so fortunate to meet along the way…

As far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a coach.  I played sports and loved em’ all.  And although I played a little baseball in college, it was clear I was not going to be an athlete at that level.  After all, I was small – but I was slow…

So after my senior year in high school, I started coaching youth teams in football and basketball — and loved it.  At SDSU, I majored in physical education and continued down the teaching and coaching path.  I did my student teaching at San Pasqual High because they had one of the best football coaches in the county, Bob Woodhouse, and I wanted to learn from him and his great staff.  One day I asked Bob what he recommended I study to become a better football coach and he said, “Just one book.  The Art of War by Sun Tzu.”  He gave me my first copy and it helped me think strategically the rest of my life.  I coached football and basketball at San Pasqual and both teams did really well.  In football we lost the CIF championship game (I coached Freshman but scouted for the varsity) and in basketball I worked with Art Warren and our basketball team went to the CIF quarterfinals.

My next student teaching assignment brought me to Crawford High and there I coached Tennis (spring semester) with Jim Sams – who was the school’s basketball coach too.  Both of my student teaching experiences – San Pasqual and Crawford — were great and solidified my career choice.  Teaching physical education and coaching was my passion.  I was doing football and basketball camps during the summers and hanging around a lot of successful veteran coaches – picking their minds and learning the tricks of the trade.  I also had a fantastic Professor in the School of Education, Dr. Paul Erickson.  Paul helped me understand what it really meant to be a teacher and why preparation was so important.

My first full time teaching job came in 1979 in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.  This wasn’t the high school level I wanted to continue at but it was a full time job in one of the best K-8 school districts in the country – and there were no openings anywhere for a PE teacher.  The economy was bad and teaching jobs were almost impossible to find.  I was very lucky and jumped at the opportunity to teach and live in a beautiful area.  I stayed at RSF for 11 years and we had an award winning PE and athletic program.  Our football and basketball teams were really high level and won frequent championships competing with other junior highs many times our size.

As time went on I felt I had done all I could at little RSF and was ready for a new challenge.  I learned of an opening at my alma mater, SDSU.  It was for a head teacher in a new research study called, Project SPARK, and I was intrigued.  In August 1990, I was very fortunate to be offered the position and accepted.  Project SPARK gave me the opportunity to write physical education curriculum and develop resources, lead professional development for teachers, and learn how to provide on-site consultation to schools and staff.  After 5 years, the evaluation data we collected showed what we wrote and applied actually worked, so we thought we’d try and move the research project into a dissemination phase.  I led that effort and SPARK became independent of grant funding in 1994 and started to grow.

While working on SPARK full time, I enjoyed learning from a variety of exciting diversions.  I was the Deputy Director of the CA Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, (big thanks to super leader John Cates), taught future teachers how to teach physical education at UCSD for 11 years, spent a few years as a Leader on the CA State Subject Matter Project for Physical and Health Education, wrote the NikeGO! and Let Me Play curriculum for those projects, and served on a number of Boards.

Over time we continued to do many more research and special projects (M-SPAN, Pathways, TAAG, OPI, POPI, to mention a few) that contributed to the SPARK knowledge base.  Today, SPARK consists of 13 different programs that span Early Childhood to University and adult levels.  I’m so grateful to SPARK for giving me the opportunity to make an impact on a much bigger scale, and to travel and see parts of the U.S. I would have never been to otherwise.  Through SPARK, we’ve been able to impact over 100,000 teachers around the world, and literally millions of students.  Plus, I think we really have put a dent in the PE universe with our advocacy, promotion of MVPA, and support for quality physical education, taught by trained and credentialed physical educators, to ALL students, every day.

Drs. Jim Sallis and Thom McKenzie, the original grantees and Investigators have been my mentors all along the way.  Along with Jim and Thom, SPARK has been a true all-star team of outstanding educators, trainers, and staff, all committed to providing the BEST materials and services to physical educators and physical activity instructors.  I’m excited to pass the baton to the next generation and know they will serve SPARK proudly!  Thanks in advance to current SPARK leaders, Kecia Carrasco, Kymm Ballard, Leticia Gonzalez, Katie Fenton, Jeff Mushkin and Christine Davis for their expertise and commitment to SPARK.

Paul Erickson, Jim Sallis, and Thom McKenzie are my top 3 mentors (who are yours?).  But there have been so many more terrific people who I’ve learned from along the way, far too many to mention, and I’m very grateful!

As I transition away from full time SPARK, I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with Wendy, Scout, and my friends.

I know, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

– Paul

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[INFOGRAPHIC] Youth & Yoga

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Yoga isn’t just for grown ups anymore. It serves as another fun, physical activity for kids and it has mental and physical benefits. Check out some of these yoga poses in this infographic!

Youth & Yoga - Kids Yoga Poses

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Holiday Message from Paul 2014

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Hi everybody:

Happy holidays to you and yours from all of us at SPARK!

Hard to believe it’s nearly the end of 2014.  Whether you are a preschool teacher, an after school youth leader, a physical education specialist, classroom teacher, or administrator, we know how hard you worked every day this year for your students.

SPARK has been busy too – working for YOU.  Here are just a few of the new resources we created in 2014:

•             SPARKdance DVD – SPARK’s greatest dance hits – music, videos, lesson plans, more, all on 1 DVD for K-12 PE

•             SPARKdance section on SPARKfamily.org (K-12 and After School dances all in one section – extra content free for SPARKers!)

•             Revised our alignments on www.sparkpe.org to reflect the new SHAPE America Physical Education Standards

•             Added new “Fastbreak” videos to SPARKabc’s

•             Launched the SPARK Speakers Bureau!  Now there are 5 Fantastic Workshops available for your next PD day!

•             Created the SPARK 25 Day Challenge!

Our holiday gift to YOU is a promise to continue developing new, innovative tools that help your students learn and you to become the best teacher you can be.

On behalf of all of your friends at SPARK (and Wendy and Scout) have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Paul Rosengard

P.S:  Here’s my favorite picture of Scout in the snow.  Wendy, Scout, and I are going to our favorite mountain town (Idyllwild, CA) over New Year’s.  We hope Scout gets some quality time in the white stuff!

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