Serving Students During the Pandemic

Posted on October 15, 2021

Providing his students with physical activity opportunities during the pandemic

One of our newest students, Joel Frye,  was recently featured in SHAPE America’s Momentum issue for his work in equity, diversity and inclusion in physical education. Joel shared with us what he has been doing as part of the national organization’s EDI advisory committee and more specifically with his own early childhood and elementary-aged students during the pandemic.  Joel’s work has been pretty amazing – he is really making an impact in his community.  Learn  more from Joel below as well as look at the article on page 19 of Momentum.  

SHAPE America Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Advisory Committee

The SHAPE America EDI advisory group was established to help create a common vision for EDI in the field of kinesiology, specifically health and physical education. As a physical educator, my role on this committee was to share my experiences, particularly as a Black male educator, and provide recommendations as to how we can improve EDI within our HPE community.

Collectively, we helped SHAPE America administrators plan and prepare for a roundtable event to be held during the annual conference and expo. With our input, SHAPE America designed an event inviting health and physical educators across the country to join the EDI conversation and discuss goals, objectives, and outcomes.

Physical Education Teacher – KIPP DC Public Schools

I have been a physical education teacher with KIPP DC Public Schools for 10 years working with the youngest students in early childhood and elementary school. I have always carried the mindset that as I receive students at the beginning of their educational journeys, it is my responsibility to provide a solid foundation and understanding for living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Our school is located in a low-income community in southeast Washington, DC where many of our families have limited access to fresh food or organized physical activity. I have made it a personal mission to create these missing opportunities so that my students and others in the community can benefit from the experiences gained through being active. At my school, we have an organized after-school intramural program that includes running, soccer, and basketball. Outside of school, I brought to our community a national youth running series hosted at a local park.

COVID-19 One-on-One’s

In the spring and fall, I coordinate a 5-week youth running series for kids ages 2-14 years old. Due to COVID-19, our 2020 season was canceled. A large number of my students participate in this series and it was a real bummer for both them and their parents that we were unable to host the program.

In March 2020, when everything first shut down, we as a school and teachers were scrambling to figure out how to navigate virtual instruction. For me, as a physical education teacher, this proved to be even tricky. As core content (e.g., math, reading, etc.) was prioritized, I was left to find creative ways to engage on my own. I tried to connect via Zoom and conduct “optional” PE classes, but communication was hit or miss and attendance was very poor.

A parent of one of my student runners reached out because she wanted her son to continue practicing for our run series, so I agreed to meet with them at our local track. We eventually set up a weekly schedule and met twice a week. I posted a couple of pictures from our “workouts” on my classroom Instagram account, and I soon had several other parents asking if I was available to meet with their children as well.

This was super exciting for me as my responsibilities during the early days of virtual learning were extremely flexible. Having this group of families and students gave me an opportunity to remain engaged and continue building relationships. We coordinated days and time to meet and it was an awesome way to remain connected, safely, during 18 months of virtual life.