Physical Activity Becomes a Way of Life at High Point
High Point R-III, High Point, Missouri
School Contact: Josh Wiltfong
For Josh Wiltfong, physical education teacher at High Point R-III, a K-8 school in High Point, Missouri, physical activity represents much more than work…it’s a way of life. Josh hopes that his students learn the value of being and staying active throughout their lives too, and he uses the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP) as his means of teaching those values. Josh will start his fourth year of implementation of PYFP in the 2015-2016 school year. He has administrators who supported him in a revamp of the PE curriculum that “provide(s) students with structure that would help to make them more accountable”.
High Point purchased the FitnessGram® software for the school, but Josh counts on the full breadth of PYFP’s resources, including professional development opportunities, to customize the program based on his students’ varying needs and abilities. Josh takes it upon himself to do professional development because at High Point, he doesn’t have “other PE teachers to bounce ideas off of” and, “professional development allows for collaboration with colleagues, and community”. Collaboration and information sharing armed Josh with the knowledge to adapt PYFP for his classroom. “Students should know that there’s many different ways to do something. It’s about whatever works for them”, says Josh. From his experience every student comes to recognize the merits of health in different ways.
Up and Running
Josh works hard to show students, and their parents that PYFP encompasses so much more than taking tests, and has positive implications for long-term development. He finds that testing sometimes comes with a stigma because students think they will be judged, but he sees the challenge as a unique opportunity to change hearts and minds when students grow through their efforts. “I’m in the National Guard and the kids look up to me, and they know that I’m trying to teach them and mold them, and that it’s more than just fitness. What really gets kids motivated are incentives like recognition, and also what their teachers do”. Josh also gives his students a lot of one-on-one time with personalized, instructional feedback on how to improve upon any given exercise or skill. He’s refined this process as some students prefer to practice on their own, but when they do work together, Josh sees too that the “vast majority of my kids are eager to help each other out”. Between the time to improve and support from peers Josh says, “students don’t look at this as a chore anymore and a positive outlook is contagious.”
What Comes Next
And while nerves might be something students always face, Josh believes that “you get a lot more out of a challenge in life when something’s harder and you’re not just skating through. The challenge aspect makes the program (PYFP) strong”, he says.
Students’ efforts and personal achievements through PYFP have in some cases impacted their lives outside of school. Josh uses the FitnessGram® Personal Fitness Record printout to first guide his students through assessment, and then share progress with their families. The scores on the report represent a milestone for students rather than a test, and though students might not always understand what the numbers mean, Josh educates them so they can “pass things on that they learn to their friends and families.” Swelling with pride, the students also report scores back to parents on their own. “One mom came up, thanked me and told me how much her daughter appreciated knowing her score. She’s not as athletically inclined and she’s very proud to go home and tell her mom about it, and now her mom’s telling me about it.” Nothing is better for Josh than word getting back to him from parents about how excited students are to be involved in PYFP. Things have “transpired to the home front”, says Josh. And that’s when meaningful lifelong change happens.