Home school students team with Bryan
May 06, 2009

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Bryan College student teacher Chelsie Blackburn explains the rules of an activity to home school students in Summers Gymnasium. This is the first year Rhea County home school children have had the opportunity to participate in a physical education class.
Most home school students in Rhea County don't have the opportunity to engage in formal physical education classes, but this year, 50 children jumped at the chance to become more active.

David Perron, an exercise health science professor at Bryan, initiated a physical education class for home school children this semester. Before he came to Bryan College this year, he taught a similar program at his previous school of employment, Bluefield College in Virginia.

"I saw how great it worked there, so I contacted the head of the home school group here, Sally Powell, with my proposal," said Perron.

Perron said he requested that Powell survey the area parents to measure their interest. More than 20 families responded with "enthusiastic" thumbs up.  "I knew it would be successful after hearing that report," he said.

The purpose of the course, called Teaching Elementary P.E., is to instruct college students how to teach and organize an elementary physical education class. Perron trained the students for the first half of the semester, then on each Wednesday after spring break, the college students conducted free classes at Summers Gymnasium on campus.

During each period, the kids are separated into two groups – 25 in kindergarten to second grade and 25 in grades three to six. A group of three to four Bryan students instruct each set of children while the rest of the undergrads fill out observation sheets. The classes allow the kids to exercise and play together while learning basic motor skills typical of a public school P.E. class.

"They have many different little activities, and they know how to keep it fun," said Ginger Sumerlin, mother of 7-year-old Cael. "It's a good time to see how our kids are doing in a group setting."

Perron noted that the student-taught class shows community members that Bryan cares about them and their families. The real-life teaching experience is beneficial to the Bryan students as well, he added.

"During the very first class, we had a little girl crying, a little boy that would not participate and just stood in one spot and another little boy got a bloody nose," said Perron. "You can't teach those types of situations."

Joshua Decker is one of the student teachers, and as an elementary education major and member of the Bryan varsity basketball team, this opportunity is right down his alley. "I enjoy teaching little kids in general, especially when it comes to sports," Decker said.
April 29 was the last day of classes for the kids, and the next class should be offered again in spring 2011. "If it were offered yearly instead of every other spring, that would be great," said Perron.

Used with permission.  Written by Michelle Friesen, The Herald-News.