The Stillwater School District was recently awarded a Physical Education Program (PEP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. More than $2 million will be paid in installments of $750,000 to the district over the next three years and will help fund the physical education program.
“This grant will allow us to build the base for developing early habits when it comes to fitness activities, motor skill development related to health and fitness, as well as provide teachers with professional development and physical education funding,” said Deb VanKlie, who did the grant-writing work. “It will help us develop a quality, standard-based program, and we’re excited about what we get to do.”
Information that went into the selection included various baseline tests of students in the district, such as PACER tests, BMI, and a large part of the grant also focuses on nutrition and the introduction of fruits and vegetables. There were also some curriculum and skill-based achievements that were taken into consideration according to VanKlie.
VanKlie had applied for the grant in the past but had to demonstrate that the district could sustain the program after the grant money was gone. The recently passed levy helped in winning this grant.
To receive the grant, VanKlie teamed up with Physical Education and health teachers from across the district, as well as several community members, to develop a new curriculum focused on health and wellness and provide opportunities for all students to understand and improve their physical well-being. Students will learn about good nutrition and healthy eating habits, developing personal fitness programs and monitoring physical fitness.
VanKlie told the district that the grant will allow the district to hire three more fully-funded staff positions, allow for 60 minutes of exercise for each student, purchase equipment such as heart rate monitors for health classes, pedometers, balls, cones, and help students with their physical, emotional, and social well-being.
“Some of the money will be left to individual teachers and accommodate buildings to help with a variety different things that are flexible to what fits them best,” VanKlie said.
“This grant will really help us have a lifelong healthy lifestyle for all of our students,” school board member George Hoeppner said. “It will give them many lifelong skills and a strong foundation going forward after that.”
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