Featuring Erica Ayers

Every week, we shine a light on a Springboard to Active Schools trainer who is making a difference in their community and state. These blogs highlight trainings that the trainers have conducted on implementing a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP), training insights and tips, and fun facts.

We met with Erica Ayers, the School Health Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, to learn more about her training experience.

  1. Share a brief overview of one of your Springboard to CSPAP Implementation trainings.
  2. What: CSPAP and fitness testing
    Who: Physical educators
    Where: Fairfield County School District’s professional development day

  3. Who were the key partners you worked with to make this training happen?
  4. I worked with Rahim El-Amin, the district’s PE coordinator and an assistant principal; Chelsee Shortt, a Physical Education doctoral student at University of South Carolina; and Lynn Hammond, the South Carolina FitnessGram Coordinator and our state’s Presidential Youth Fitness Program trainer.

  5. What superpower did each partner bring to the table?
  6. Mr. El-Amin had the ability to get administrative and staff buy-in and coordinate the day. When working with a school district, it sometimes takes a while to find the right contact for what you want to do. In this case, Mr. El-Amin was that person. It took one phone call. He got excited and scheduled it right away.

    Chelsee brought her ability to take the topic and put together a fitness progression lesson plan. Lynn made the connection between CSPAP and FitnessGram and how to use the fitness data to help students meet their goals. She is great at promoting the message of CSPAP.

  7. Did you learn anything new about your partners through this process? If so, what did you learn?
  8. From Chelsee, I learned that PhD students are great to involve because they are interested and need the contact hours. I learned that Mr. El-Amin had a PE background and is very passionate about physical activity. At first, I thought PE was just one of the many hats he wears, but he has a background in it and can advocate for it at the district level.

  9. What are three words to describe your audience before the training began?
  10. Hesitant, quiet, resistant.

  11. What are three words to describe your audience at the conclusion of the training?
  12. Receptive, boisterous, appreciative.

  13. What is one way you got the participants to be physically active?
  14. I have learned from my experience training PE teachers that they are PE teachers for a reason -they do not want to sit still! PE teachers want to do real physical activity. For a full day workshop, I had them in the gym for half the day.

  15. What part of the training are you most proud of?
  16. It provided the participants a safe place to share their concerns, challenges, and frustrations, but also brag on their successes and talk about their lessons learned. It was the first time they had been brought together that school year, and the training gave them the chance to learn together.

    For example, we talked about state PE standards, and this training gave them a chance to talk about how they are meeting the standards at each level. This discussion gave them a full picture of what everyone is doing at each level, so the middle school teachers could build on what is going on in elementary classes and high school could build on what is happening in middle and elementary classes.

  17. What part of the training was the most challenging?
  18. Because it was the CSPAP training, we talked about opportunities for physical activity outside the physical education class. I found that encouraging them, motivating them, and giving them the tools to be physical activity advocates and content experts in their schools is a challenge. They were unsure of how to work with classroom teachers on physical activity outside of a physical education class, because they view themselves as being underappreciated. Helping them understand how to break down that silo and be an advocate is a challenge.

  19. What is one thing that surprised you at your training?
  20. We did the Vote with Your Feet activity, which is a great way to spark conversations. I asked them if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “in your school/district, PE is as highly regarded as other subject areas.” They talked about how PE teachers need to work hard to improve the image of PE, and they recognized the fact that they have to become advocates in their own schools.