Amy Vitale. Jonathan Lopez
The Physical Education Majors Club, which has been dormant for the past several years, burst onto the scene the weekend of February 24. The club was represented by over 15 volunteers and 50 participants at the New Jersey Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (NJAHPERD) Student Division of Future Professionals Workshop in East Brunswick. The club left quite an impression on those in the crowd including the presidents of both the national and state professional associations. In addition to Kean University, physical education students from Montclair State University, The College of New Jersey, and Rowan University were present, but the Cougars had the greatest representation. Go Cougars! Various health and physical education professionals from around the country were also in attendance. "I received many positive comments from the presidents of the both the state and national associations about the enthusiasm, hard work, and especially the turn-out from Kean. I couldn't have been more pleased with our student representation," said Dr. Jessica Adams, the faculty advisor of the Physical Education Majors Club. Many people were surprised at how fast the Kean Physical Education Club reemerged into the ranks with other top universities in the state after not being heard of for so many years. After this weekend, Kean earned much respect and brought their reputation back amongst the best in the area for Physical Education. It was a great experience for the club, because they not only represented the school well, but the students who attended benefited tremendously.
A "Blitz Interviewing" session was an integral component of the program. Students had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews with supervisors from various public schools. Immediately following this practice session, students in the final phases of their teacher certification program were afforded the opportunity to interview for real positions at Newark and South Orange schools.
John Bennett, the National AAHPERD President commended New Jersey for bringing all three Teachers of the Year to the convention. He mentioned how this is a very rare opportunity to have all three in on place and the students in attendance were very fortunate to be there. Bennett said that by attending the future professional workshop, the students "made a choice to take advantage." NJAHPERD was honored to host Emily Pharez, Deb Walter, and Bob Fitzpatrick.
Emily Pharez, the 2007 NASPE National Middle School Teacher of the Year, teaches in Lower Alabama where her constant enthusiasm and passion for Physical Education motivates her students to love her class. Deb Walter, the 2007 NASPE National High School Teacher of the Year, teaches an Adventure Education Curriculum at an Alternative School in Arkansas. Walter is able to transform the lives of many at-risk teenagers by developing trust, cooperation, teamwork, and honesty within her gymnasium. Bob Fitzpatrick, the 2007 EDA Elementary School Teacher of the Year, teaches young children in Massachusetts. Fitzpatrick is an advocate for good classroom management and his gymnasium runs smoothly and efficiently because of it. Each Teacher of the Year brought a different perspective to the workshop, but they were all in sync about how beneficial the future professional workshop will be for those who attended.
"These future professional workshops are very important because experience is needed before actually teaching. However, you [students] must not stop now; you have only scratched the surface of teaching Physical Education," said Walter when asked how this student workshop will benefit those seeking a degree in Physical Education. Joining professional organizations and attending conventions were ranked high in her list of tips for success that she discussed during her presentation. Kean University students gained an edge over other students competing to enter the same profession by having so many students attend the workshop, because they were able to gain insight information from some of the best teachers in the nation not only for their own good but to share with the rest of the Physical Education Department. Out of all of the conventions and workshops Walter has spoken at, she said, "I like to talk to young professionals the best, because they are so ripe and eager to learn." The students representing Kean University at the workshop were certainly ready to absorb as much information they could.
Besides filling their brains with numerous activities and various classroom management strategies, Kean University provided the largest amount of student volunteers among all four schools. Not only were these students ready to provide a hand wherever needed, they also looked very professional in their Kean University Physical Education Club polo shirts. These polo shirts really helped distinguish the cougars from all the students from other schools. "We are not stopping here [with the polo shirts]. The club is already looking into getting warm up pants and jackets to ensure all of their students look professional while out on their field experience," said Ray Lepski, senior and Vice President of the Kean Physical Education Majors Club, when asked about how he thought Kean students were represented at the workshop. From professionalism to representation to the acquiring of very useful knowledge, the students from Kean had a very successful day.
In addition to the students profiting from such a workshop, it is also "a rush for the presenters, because they have the opportunity to share their strategies and activities with young people emerging into the profession," according to Fitzpatrick. The students who attended this workshop should feel honored they were able to be in the presence of and interact on a personal level with nationally recognized teachers for an entire day. Many students took advantage of the opportunity to speak with these teachers after the convention and even had the chance to join them in an Olympic type competition following the workshop.
"Going for the Gold" was a competition made up of various project adventure activities allowing both students and teachers to compete to kick off the 2008 Annual NJAHPERD Convention. The competition was comprised of variety of different teamwork activities, ensuring everyone was involved. Students had the opportunity to socialize with teachers from all over the state and the three teachers of the year. Throughout this entertaining night students gained knowledge about the Physical Education profession, met new people, and networked with teachers and supervisors. Along with meeting teachers, students from Kean socialized with students from other colleges, and were able to find out how the programs at their schools were run and potential ways to improve the club. Kean University represented "Going for the Gold" just as strongly as they represented the workshop earlier that day. With the rapid growth and improvement in Kean University's Physical Education Majors Club the name will spread around and be placed amongst the elite Physical Education programs in the country.
About the Author
Sarah Steinman is currently a junior in the physical education program at Kean University. She is an active member of the major's club and is a 2nd base player for the Cougar's softball team. Sarah's hometown is Springfield, NJ.
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