Episode 04: The New Age of High School Physical Education with John Beerbower
by TeamBuildr, on Sep 23, 2020
We're back with another episode and this week we had John Beerbower on the mic. John is currently at McHenry West High School in Illinois where he serves as the Assistant Divisional Chair for PE, Health, and Drivers Ed as well as serving as the Director of Strength and Conditioning for the district. He has been awarded the Illinois Coach of the Year from the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA) and he takes great pride in the implementation of a unified physical education program at his school.
John has an education background. He's an educator by trade and he really ended up developing a passion for strength and conditioning. He says that he's actually "envious of people who have more content knowledge of strength and conditioning." Even though a background in physical education and educational leadership has helped him grow into the position that he is in now, he tries to immerse himself by going to conferences (pre-covid of course) and learning from great strength and conditioning coaches like Mike Boyle.
In the high school setting, physical education and strength and conditioning basically go hand in hand these days and John talks a lot about a unified PE program, so we asked him what would what are some like fundamental things that you would advise doing in year one or year two of someone trying to start their own unified PE program...
Well, I think it can be a false idea to try to replicate what someone else is already doing in full swing. You really need to take some time to take stock in terms of what are your easy wins right off the bat. What things make the most sense in terms of getting everybody on the same page and getting that buy in. Because once that happens, you start getting that momentum and that momentum is so powerful that it can get you through some obstacles that maybe you couldn't have without it. And so I would say, as you start there, just take a look at you know, what some of the greatest needs are that need to be accomplished and that everyone can agree on to unify everyone.
Other than creating a totally awesome an unified physical education program for his students, he's also really big on implementing technology into the PE/strength and conditioning program - hence why he's been using TeamBuildr for a few years now 😅 - John likes the data. He uses it every year to build his case on how physical education, more so physical activity, is not just helping the students live a healthier lifestyle but it is also helping them in the classroom.
With the data that he was collecting from the students using TeamBuildr, he was able to compare that with academic data. He saw that the same kids that exceeding the physical aspect were also the students that had a higher GPA, were enrolled in AP classes, had higher SAT scores, etc.
It makes a hard case to try to reduce activity level, and not invest in a program that you've been able to show is returning on the investment of it. And it makes it pretty hard to cut physical education time, especially if you're showing how much it's helping our kids be more fit and do better in the classroom.
John is extremely fortunate to be at school where they have the ability to implement these programs, become a technology school, and really invest in unifying the strength and conditioning program. And we love to see it. But the reality of it is, not everyone can do this but at the end of the day you're there for the students and that is what they are going to remember too.
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