PE Teacher of the Year Dana Griffith with Deion Sanders (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for NFL Network)
Football season may be over, but that doesn’t stop our favorite NFL players from being active for a good cause. Through the NFL Network’s Keep Gym in School program, physical education programs in local schools receive grants to provide better classes to students. So far, the program has awarded more than $500,000 to 45 schools nationwide.
This year, the NFL Network also named its first PE Teacher of the Year. The recipient is Dana Griffith, a middle school physical education and health teacher at Berkmar Middle School in Lilburn, Georgia. Ms. Griffith was given this award for her efforts in getting the whole community involved in their children’s fitness. We talked to Ms. Griffith and got tips to inspire everyone to be more active:
How do you keep phys ed in your school fun and engaging?
Students set their own fitness and sports goals which are measured against their own progress. We show them how to monitor their heart rates for they can practice what they learn in class wherever they are. My students voted to have a fitness center available where they can work out and play before and after class. It has a Wii, Playstation and other games so that they have fun while exercising. If it’s not fun, the kids won’t keep doing it.
Not everyone’s a fan of sports. How do you get your kids involved?
One of my favorite sports is Lacrosse, so that’s one of the sports we play. Unlike basketball or football, lacrosse is new to most students, so the playing field is even and no one feels left out.
How can parents keep kids active when they get home from school?
Fitness has to be a priority for the whole family. Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to find free or low-cost activities that everyone can enjoy. You can also start healthy traditions, like playing a game of touch football after holiday dinners. We have a popular mother-daughter aerobics class at our fitness center where we offer nutrition and other fitness tips too.
What do you have in store for the next school year?
We want to add a track behind the school and open it up to the community and create running groups. My students also voted to add a climbing wall. I’ve noticed that young girls lack upper body strength even for their age group. Rock climbing is definitely more fun than doing push-ups. Every year we ask students for their feedback: what they like, what they want to change. This way, they feel more involved and in control of their fitness, too.
Now tell us: How did your school PE experiences impact your fitness habits today?