Focused Fitness Blog


Success Story: CMS is "ALL IN"
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By Dr. Kim Cooke, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC @CMSHPE

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is committed to "developing" healthy, active kids. District and school teams work together on dynamic programs that measure student outcomes in relation to student wellness. Knowing the relationship between wellness and social-emotional learning, CMS has invested deeply in health and physical education. Why has CMS been successful in measuring student outcomes? Using district data through WELNET®, health and PE funding requests are aligned with the district’s strategic plan and initiatives. In other words, funding proposals are written to show impact on students in a compelling manner. 

In 2015, CMS provided $115,000 in fitness equipment to support the high school fitness electives courses. Each high school received jump ropes, mats, medicine balls, and resistance bands. Purpose: To transform high school gymnasiums into fitness centers.

In 2016, CMS provided $133,000 of functional resistance equipment for all 43 middle schools in the district. Purpose: (1) To educate and promote lifetime fitness (2) To maximize gymnasium space for quality instruction.

In 2016, CMS provided $147,000+ to provide staff training and classroom furniture to promote active learning environments. Purpose:  To redesign classroom environments and instruction to promote movement. 

In 2017, CMS provided $343,000+ to purchase PE equipment for all 110 elementary schools in the district. Each school received $3,000 for PE equipment. Purpose: To ensure elementary PE teachers had adequate equipment and resources to deliver quality instruction.

In 2015-2017, CMS provided over $400,000+ to provide five high schools with new commercial quality weight rooms. Purpose:  To ensure high school weight rooms are in compliance with safety and health standards.

In 2017, CMS provided over $18,000 in funds for August training for over 400+ health and PE teachers. Purpose: To improve teacher practice to implement quality health and PE programs in all K-12 schools.

In 2018, CMS provided over $360,000 in district funding to provide four high schools with new commercial quality weight rooms. Purpose:  To ensure high school weight rooms are in compliance with safety and health standards.

In 2018, CMS has designated over $46,000 to provide substitutes for teachers to learn about a CMS-developed program called B3: Brain, Body, Behavior.  All 110 elementary schools will send a team of 3 teachers to attend the training during 2018-2019 school year. Purpose: To educate teachers on how to use purposeful movement to address social, emotional, learning needs or our students.  

In 2018, CMS is allocating over $26,000 to provide substitutes for all secondary health teachers.  Over 100 CMS health teachers will be trained on the district’s Choice Led Health Classroom curriculum. Purpose: To ensure all health teachers understand and implement the district’s health education curriculum. 


Success Story: The Stars and Stripes of Teaching
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By Don Levine,Elementary Physical Education Teacher, Colchester School District, Colchester, CT @DJLTeacher

Celebrating 29 years of teaching allows you to reflect on one’s history and life as a Health and Physical Educator. It’s been a blur at times, hard to believe the years fly by so quickly.  I believe it’s due to the level of passion that I still have and I’m now looking forward to year 30. Wow 30 years already. Seems like yesterday that I dusted off my degree that I had earned in 1980 from Central Connecticut State University, beginning my career in 1989.  Prior to that I was a Parks and Recreation Director from 1980-84 and then had a business career in Real Estate as a sales representative, and then as a broker, opening my own office in the late 1980’s. Luck would bring me to teaching as the market conditions dwindled and I closed my fledgling business. I was offered two positions in Colchester taking the K-5 position at Jack Jackter Elementary School in September of 1989. I’ve been fortunate to work with great mentors, colleagues, and of course countless students and their families.

The “Stars and Stripes of Teaching” have brought me so many moments of joy and student success. The “Stars” are the students, the “Stripes” what they’ve earned in a sense when they achieve success. The same goes for us as educators. You must put in great effort to achieve as an educator. It’s a rewarding field, but one that takes grit and determination at times. Part of what I enjoy doing is spending time being a part of countless programs: Jump Rope for Heart (25 years as Chairman), A.C.E.S. (All Children Exercising Simultaneously), P.T.O. fundraisers from pasta dinners, to family fun nights have allowed me to be a part of the lives of our students and their families in a fun, relaxed way.

With 29 years comes second generation students. It’s so great to see “students” that are now “parents”.  They reflect on their experience and it makes for a settling influence for their children. It’s one of the perks of being an educator for 29 years. I guess it’s an earned “Stripe” that I’m afforded this opportunity.

This year has been memorable for me professionally.  Last June I was nominated by a colleague from Central Connecticut State University for Connecticut’s Elementary School Physical Educator of the Year through our professional organization CTAHPERD (Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) under the umbrella of SHAPE America. I’m pleased to say I was honored with this award. It’s certainly humbling. It does give me the drive and determination to continue to make my 30th year even better for my students and their families.

What I’m truly proud of is being named Jump Rope for Heart Coordinator of the year for last year’s event through the American Heart Association. This also was announced at the CTAHPERD convention.  This year’s event topped last year’s. We (Colchester Elementary School) raised $31,180 becoming Connecticut’s best for 2018. Amazing for a PK-2 school.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved locally, regionally and statewide. Giving back to our profession is so critical. Advocating for Health and Physical Education is so important.  Giving our students a well-rounded education is key to their future development.

As an educator I’m a lifelong learner and continue to strive to do my very best.  Learning never ends. The key is passion and the love for what you do. I’ve been asked “when are you retiring”. My answer, “I have too much to accomplish to even think about that”.  My passion for my students to earn their “Stars” and for me to earn my “Stripes” continues to burn brightly.


Success Story: BLOOM Happens When…
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By Amy Riggio, Elementary Physical Education Teacher, Sanders Corner Elementary School, Ashburn, VA @SandersCornerPE

“My greatest success as a teacher is seeing the fruits of my labor BLOOM! I have changed my entire perspective on teaching Health and Physical Education since beginning in 1998. At the start, it was all about the games and skills. Although state standards have the motor skill development portion, I personally have much higher expectations for my students now. The change in Virginia State Standards of Learning has pushed me to challenge my teaching strategies as well as my students. Health and Physical Education content-based instruction has increased the physical competency of my students and has allowed me to improve their knowledge year after year.

With the challenge of creating content driven physical activities comes the glorious benefits!! The BLOOM happens when my Kindergarten students can name every major bone in the body (Anatomical Basis of Movement). The BLOOM happens when a 5th grade student finally has a light bulb moment in a game of Energy In-Energy Out (energy balance) and realizes food and exercise choices are VERY important to his/her well-being. The BLOOM happens when every student that walks in the door enjoys their time in Physical Education and I KNOW that they are leaving with more knowledge than when they entered.

This drive to create a unique learning experience for my students pushes me to participate in more professional development, to check out Physical Education/Health social media accounts a few more times a day to find the coolest new ideas and to step outside of my comfortable “professional box”. All the struggles that come with creating different lessons and ideas and stretching my comfort zone bring beautiful results to my classroom. And I LOVE IT!!”



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