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Primary PE class trains high school students to work with children

Raul Cordova leads a primary PE group at Monterey Road Elementary school. Photo by Eden Marshall

Primary PE is an interactive elective offered at AHS in which students learn about child behavior through instructing elementary school students in Physical Education (PE). The course is offered to upperclassmen and is a unique opportunity for students to study child development by working with first, second, and third grade children.

The course prerequisites are an application and approval by the instructor Mr. Davis, although it is also recommended that students first take the Child Growth and Development class. The class began at AHS about 20 years ago, first instituted by Ms. Spinks, then taught by Ms. Menesez, and now run by Mr. Davis.

“The program has evolved over the years, and I am always trying to make it better,” said Mr. Davis. During the first two and a half months of the course, students learn about class management and children’s locomotive skills, which are important for developing coordination. The students also practice their teaching skills using their peers as models for the young children, with Mr. Davis getting the feedback. “My favorite part of this class is getting to see my first graders grow into more responsible and cooperative kids. When we first started in the fall, my kids didn’t know how to get in a line, but now, I see them lifting each other up and growing more mature every time I see them” said junior Katelyn McKinley.

After this learning period, AHS students begin teaching primary PE classes twice a week at Monterey Road Elementary School, Santa Rosa Elementary School, and San Gabriel Elementary School. AHS Primary PE students teach at Santa Rosa during first period, San Gabriel during second, and Monterey Road during third. During one class period every other week, the Primary PE classes review and discuss their work with the children.

Each primary PE class has about 22 students, and usually groups of three students will work with one elementary teacher and a class of first, second, or third graders. Each student is in charge of teaching a group of about 10 kids. The elementary schools each have 26 different items of equipment for the PE classes, such as hockey sticks, basketballs, and frisbees. Every week each group’s equipment and activities rotate, and the kids get the opportunity to focus on something different. “Students are in charge of coming up with curriculum and lessons to enhance younger student learning,” said Mr. Davis. “I think they don’t realize how much

responsibility they learn through this process.”

Cameo Calderon, who is taking the class for her second year, has had her career choices impacted by her experiences. “The class definitely shaped my opinion towards a future career choice,” she said. “It made me realize I loved working with children and it pushed me in a direction to pursue a job working with children.”

Mr. Davis is proud of what his students accomplish. “I think it’s one of the most beneficial courses to take to prepare for the education field,” he said. “Not that it is PE, but the learning experience with lesson plans and the work we do with curriculum. There is no other class I know of that gives this kind of experience with the interaction with kids.”

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