Hastings P.E. Teacher Headed to D.C.
This will be Becky Hamik's second trip to Capitol Hill where she'll be advocating for a law that would open up more opportunities for school districts.
She says the law known as the PHYSICAL (Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life) Act would make health and physical education core academic subjects. In turn that would let school districts cash in on federal dollars to use to develop better programs in those areas, something they can't do now.
Hamik says that at Hastings Public Schools, where she's been a teacher for 30 years, she and fellow P.E. teachers work on ways to keep their kids moving in the gym, after school, and in the classroom.
"It'd be really great if we could have kids have P.E. class every day, if they can't then they're really trying to incorporate physical activity throughout the day, be it as recess, in the classroom, and then when they come to P.E. class," she says.
Hamik says Profession Learning Communities (PLCs) – where teachers of the same subjects meet and talk about what they're teaching – lets them work on staff and program development together, but it's not an advantage all schools have.
"We teach the same curriculum, we teach the same skills, we teach the same movement concepts and so if you're at one elementary school or another, it doesn't matter, you're getting the same education," she says.
When Hamik heads to Washington DC next week she'll share HPS's story, and call for the core curriculum change.
"It's really cool if you get a chance to sit down and talk to the congressmen, and my intention this year is to invite as many of them as I can to come back to Hastings and come into the gym, come into our schools, and see what it is that we do every day," she says.
Other teachers say making sure there is time during the school day and funding for health and physical education is important.
"I think it's a conversation that everybody should be having, every school should be implementing more and more physical activity. Obviously obesity rates are increasing, and this is one thing we can do to spread the word," says fellow HPS P.E. teacher Derek Williams.
While in DC, Hamik and others will also ask Congress to keep funding a federal program known as the PEP Grant. Hamik says it's highly competitive, but can mean millions of dollars for a chosen district to use toward developing physical education programs.
"Our goal is to have kids be successful at physical activity so that they want to make it a lifelong activity for themselves," she says.