PE teachers ask board for cardiac monitors
The Tonganoxie school district sets up five-year plans for purchasing books and technology.
Board member Ron Moore suggested Monday night the district might look into setting up a five-year physical education plan also.
Moore's suggestion followed a presentation and video by Tonganoxie physical education teachers. The teachers asked the board to purchase heart monitors their students could use during physical education classes.
In May, PE teachers from the grade school, junior high and high school traveled to Titusville, Penn., to learn about the PE4Life Institute.
Founded in 2000, PE4Life's goal is to inspire children to want to live active, healthy lives. The program emphasizes the use of technology, including heart rate monitors and other assessment tools, to evaluate students' progress based on health standards, rather than on athletic standards.
Junior high PE teacher Phil Jeannin said he was a little skeptical about the program before the trip.
"But once I got there I was really sold on it," Jeannin told board members.
He said the PE4Life program makes positive changes in the way physical education is taught.
"When I first started teaching, physical education skills were important," Jeannin said. "You got graded on skills -- then you had to run a nine-minute mile. Then if a kid can't hit free throws one day his grade goes down."
Jeannin said he liked the PE4Life program because of the way it emphasized the importance of good health over traditional physical education activities.
Kindergarten PE teacher Diane Titterington explained how exercise improves brain functioning.
She said studies have shown that when children are physically active every day, their standardized test scores improve.
"The more we can do in our schools, the better off they are, physically and mentally," Titterington said.
THS physical education teacher Matt Bond went straight to the point.
"All right guys, enough of the feel-good stuff, I'm here to ask for your help financially," Bond said to board members.
Bond asked the board to consider purchasing more than 200 heart rate monitors. He said the school district would need enough monitors so that each physical education teacher would have a monitor for each student to wear during every PE class. The students could keep track of their heart rates, and target heart rates, while exercising.
Bond said the monitors, and additional wristbands to wear them on, would cost about $40,000.
Board member Ron Moore said the monitors seemed to be a good idea.
"I've seem some used in wellness classes and they tell you what your heart rate is," Moore said. "I know those are good methods, good things to know."
And, Moore said, the monitors would be used with supplemental literature and training, "so they know what they're doing and how they're doing."
Moore said he thought it would be a good idea for the district to purchase the heart rate monitors now.
"I like that idea and I think you're going to have to do a little something every year," Moore said. "... You'll want some staffing and you'll want some equipment and it's probably significant. Maybe we'll have to buy a little bit at a time."
More suggested the board should consider at a future board meeting whether to purchase the heart monitors.
Bond also suggested the possibility that the high school should change its graduation requirements so that two years of PE would be required to graduate. Currently, the school requires a single year of PE for grades 9-12. THS principal Tatia Shelton said if this plan were adopted, it would start up with a freshman class.
Bond and the other PE teachers also talked to board members about the possibility of having student fitness centers -- with athletic workout equipment -- in each of the buildings.
Ursula Kissinger, who teaches PE at the grade school, said the fitness centers would include elliptical machines, treadmills, bicycles and other resistance training equipment.
"What we want to do is grab a room as they become available," Kissinger said. "As we get into the new buildings there may be some space somewhere."
Kissinger said she and the other PE teachers have been researching grants, and they plan to apply.
Tuesday, Kissinger said she felt good about the board's response.
"I was glad that they seemed supportive in thinking that physical education is just as important as another subject -- it is," Kissinger said.
It all boils down to this, she added:
"The idea is, you can be active for a lifetime. It's not just a sport and when you're done, when you're out of school, it's the idea that you will have learned to take care of yourself for life."