Posts Tagged ‘School Specialty Physical Education and Recreation’

“Mission Possible – for YOUR Program”

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?”

This statement is obviously pre-GPS technology, but I think you know where we’re going with this…

At SPARK, we’re big believers in instructional alignment.  Sure, we have Standards, benchmarks, yearly plans, assessment tools, and activities, pedagogy, and equipment to coordinate.  Sheesh, isn’t that enough??!

Actually, there’s one more piece to the puzzle – and it really completes it.  A mission statement is what your district, or school, or physical education program believes in.  It’s at the top of the instructional alignment pyramid – IOW, you don’t include that instructional unit in your program if it doesn’t align with your mission statement.  You don’t grade students that way if it doesn’t align with your mission statement.  What you do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly should cascade up to your mission statement.

If you’re a physical educator at an elementary, middle or high school and your department (even if your department is only YOU) doesn’t have a MS, it’s high time to put the task in your queue.  If you already have a mission statement, when was the last time you re-visited it?

Here are 10 terrific tips for writing (a better word might be developing) a mission statement, followed by a few samples (not models) from other schools to review (sans school name for anonymity).

  1. Ask yourself or your team the right questions.  To begin, what do we do and why do we do it?  What do we want for our students, our school, our community?  What are the 3 or 4 objectives or attributes that define our PE program?  Think about the SPARK that initially ignited your desire to become a physical educator in the first place.  What will keep your SPARK alive?
  1. Say it clearly.  Your mission statement needs to clearly state your professional goals and objectives. It should explain how what you do as a department will make a difference in the lives of your students, school, and community.
  1. Decide what makes you different.  Never forget you are pursuing the same budget dollars as other subject areas.  How does physical education stand out from the other educational disciplines?
  1. Build your brand.  Use your mission statement to build your unique brand.  Make sure to communicate your program’s key values to your students, school, and community.
  1. Keep it short and sweet.  Ideally, you should be able to summarize your department’s mission in a few sentences.  Consider it your elevator pitch.  You should be able to state your department’s mission succinctly in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the ground floor to the top floor.
  1. Be honest.  Make sure when you read your own mission statement, it reflects what you/your colleagues truly believe.  Too much pomp and self-congratulatory language will turn off those who read it, so avoid saying your program is the “best” at this or the “world leader” at that.
  1. Make it a joint effort.  It’s incredibly helpful to get the input of others, both inside and outside your department.  Collaborators can help you to better see the strengths and weaknesses of your mission statement.
  1. Polish the language.  See to it that you have several pairs of eyes (ideally belonging to wordy, editor types) to review your mission statement many times until every word sizzles (perhaps, SPARK’s).  Your mission statement should be error-free, eloquent, and precise.  It should be dynamic and inspirational.  In short, it should be as close to perfect as you can get it.
  1. Spread the word.  Once your mission statement is complete, start sharing it by posting it everywhere you can.  It should be prominently displayed on your school website, in your locker room or gym, in correspondence that goes home with the kids, maybe even at the bottom of your school e-mails.  Be creative in spreading the word.
  1. Revise as needed.  Your mission statement, as wonderful as it might sound now, should not be set in stone.  As your program changes, so too might your department’s mission.  Revisit your mission statement on a regular basis to evaluate whether it should be revised or updated.  If it’s solid, you probably won’t need to alter it significantly as time goes by.

Samples of mission statements from physical education departments:

The _______ Middle School Physical Education staff believes that each and every student can achieve excellence regardless of size, maturity, coordination, body type, or other physical capability.

We as a department are concerned with developing a child’s positive attitude towards physical education that will last a lifetime.

_________ physical education strives to maintain an activity based program while teaching lifelong fitness in a safe and enjoyable environment.

There you have it, mission possible!  You can do this!  And you should.

So think about your next steps, put this assignment in your calendar so you begin to allocate time to make it happen, then enjoy the process.

SPARK Supports White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

In February, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within one generation. As part of this effort, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an inter agency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

The report, titled Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, includes Early Childhood Education, Physical Education and Physical Activity recommendations. SPARK is already well aligned with the recommendations in this report!

Early Childhood Education

“Young children need opportunities to be physically active through play and other activities. Physical activity assists children in obtaining and improving fine and gross motor skill development, coordina¬tion, balance and control, hand-eye coordination, strength, dexterity, and flexibility—all of which are necessary for children to reach developmental milestones.
Preschool years, in particular, are crucial for obesity prevention due to the timing of the development of fat tissue, which typically occurs from ages 3-7…. Features of the child care center environment, including policies regarding activity and provider training, as well as the presence of portable and fixed play equipment, influence the amount of physical activity children engage in while at child care.”

  • SPARK Early Childhood is designed specially for children ages 3-5 years to increase physical activity and development
  • SPARK EC was one of the first large-scale, urban efforts to evaluate a comprehensive physical activity program for the 3-5 age group. The project concluded in winter 2004, and showed the SPARK EC program was very well received by the Head Start teachers, increased students’ moderate to vigorous activity levels to over 50% of class time, and improved the number of minutes children engaged in activity throughout the day.

School-Based Approaches to Increasing Physical Activity

“Schools are a key setting to focus on, given the significant portion of time children spend there. Schools can undertake a combination of strategies and approaches to help children be more active including:
– Creating infrastructure and policies that increase access to and encourage physical activity for all students;
– Collecting valid and reliable data and using analytical tools and systems to understand student needs and fitness levels, and promoting approaches that are effective in changing physical activity behaviors and, ultimately, health outcomes;
– Maintaining strong physical education (PE) programs that engage students in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 50% of PE class time;
– Providing a variety of activities and specific skills so that students can be physically active not just during class but throughout the day and year; and
– Providing qualified school professionals who are trained in teaching methods to engage stu¬dents in PE, including for students who face greater barriers to activity.”

  • SPARK physical education and activity programs have been proven to increase levels of MVPA, physical fitness, motor skill development, student enjoyment of the program and academic achievement
  • SPARK was recently identified as a successful model for combating childhood obesity in the report, “Fighting Obesity: What Works, What’s Promising” by the HSC Foundation. The report speaks of SPARK’s history, practice, and methods. SPARK was the ONLY program recommended for physical education AND physical activity.
  • SPARK is the ONLY National Institute of Health (NIH) researched program available providing coordinated curriculum, training, follow up support, and equipment for Pre-K through 12th grade teachers.
  • A Child Trends report titled “What Works for the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity Among Children”, highlights SPARK as a program that has proven to increase physical activity among students.

Physical Education

“Physical Education (PE) is considered the cornerstone of a school-based comprehensive physical activity program. It provides the basis and opportunity for young people to gain the knowledge and skills needed to maintain physically active lifestyles throughout childhood and into adulthood. A quality PE program can increase student participation in physical activity, increase their physical fitness, and enhance their understanding about the purpose and methods of physical activity. Participation in daily PE is associated with an increased likelihood of participating regularly in moderate to vigorous physical activity.”

  • SPARK Physical Education is an award-winning, research-based program that has been proven to increase activity levels, knowledge, skills, and fitness. SPARK elementary physical education is the ONLY nationally-disseminated program that positively affects ALL of these student outcomes:
    • Academic Achievement
    • Activity levels (moderate to vigorous surpasses 50% of class time)
    • Fitness achievement
    • Sport Skills development
    • Enjoyment of PE
  • SPARK’s the only PE program that has data to show students statistically significantly increase their Fitness gram scores.
  • SPARK activities can be integrated throughout the school day to help your school provide physical education daily

Nutrition Education

“More, and better, nutrition education is needed in many schools. While approximately 75% of schools require nutrition education as part of health curriculum requirements, the time spent on nutrition and dietary behavior has declined in recent years, and funding has been limited. Many teachers are not equipped with the skills and knowledge to integrate and promote nutrition education into their classroom curricula. Research has shown that nutrition education interventions, if well designed and effectively implemented can improve dietary behaviors.”

  • SPARK has teamed up with Healthy Kids Challenge and Healthy Lifestyle Choices to provide nutrition and health education curriculum and training programs
  • Healthy Kids Challenge is a nationally recognized non-profit led by an exemplary team of registered, licensed dietitians with many years of school, program, and community wellness experience
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices curriculum is flexible and provides a variety of scheduling and implementation options for busy elementary teachers

The End of an Era: Peter Savitz Retires

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Ho-hum.  The last weekend in February usually passes without much fanfare.  This year – 2010 — was different.

Wendy and I flew to Atlanta to honor a friend and colleague as he transitioned from full time work to retirement; and I want to tell you about it.

Our friend is Peter Savitz, the President of Sportime – or – what was once Sportime.  You see, the Sportime we all knew and loved really doesn’t exist anymore.  Sportime used to be a separate company that served the physical education market by providing truly innovative products to students and teachers.  Today, Sportime is a product line and a part of a large company, School Specialty.  This is different, don’t know if it’s better or not, we’ll leave that to time and others to make that call.  What we know today is that the Sportime (and Fitness and Sport) catalogs we’ve all used in our careers are not called Sportime anymore, they’re School Specialty Physical Education and Recreation, and won’t be created by the same people.

So what of Sportime’s leader – Pete?  After 40 years in the industry, working with Larry Joseph to build a company from scratch, he’s hanging up his sneakers.  Under Pete’s leadership, Sportime grew to be one of the largest equipment providers to physical educators in the U.S.  Headquartered in Atlanta, Pete hired a lot of terrific staff, gave them the tools to do what they do best, and enabled their development.  Pete is one of those rare individuals that can answer almost any question related to the business.  He also made himself available to you 24/7.  Pete didn’t supervise people, he supported them.  A lot of others could benefit from his lessons on how to run a company, empower  staff to succeed, and ensure that doing right by people and watching the bottom line, are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Pete’s first SPARK act in 1989 demonstrated his generosity.  He approved the sale of equipment to our research study at a 50% discount.  This enabled us to purchase more equipment for participating schools, a very good thing.  We liked the Sportime equipment, their people, and their service, so when it was time in 1993 to begin our dissemination phase, I approached Sportime first.  Soon we reached an agreement on how SPARK would recommend Sportime equipment to our SPARK schools.  This level of partnership continued until 2002 when it was time for SPARK to transfer our licensure from San Diego State to Sportime.  That’s why for the past 8 years, I’ve been fortunate to call Pete my boss.

So, at his retirement party during this uneventful week in February, I (and a lot of others) had a chance to thank him publically.  Not only to thank him from my individual perspective, but for all of us who have been a part of our SPARK team – as Pete was.  He wasn’t just my support person, he supported everybody at SPARK.  He gave his time freely and genuinely cared about each person’s professional and personal growth.  He helped SPARK grow, and more importantly, he helped us evolve as an organization.  We’re smarter and better because of Pete.

Before Pete left, he had to watch the Sportime he built change significantly – piece by piece, person by person.  That couldn’t have been easy, but in typical Pete fashion, you didn’t hear him complain.

Pete’s work touched too many lives to mention.  Pete loves physical education and physical educators.  He is a big supporter of our profession in words and deeds.  Whether you know Pete from his support of NASPE’s Teacher of the Year program, or from his/Sportime’s contributions to your school or agency, or perhaps you had the opportunity to meet him at an AAHPERD conference, I hope you’ll make a minute to thank him for a remarkable, meaningful career.

He can be reached at

-Paul Rosengard