Healthy Role Models

Theron Goodson directed a classroom of third graders on how to get their hearts pumping faster by running in place during a lesson about physical activity.

The Georgia State University junior is one of 11 members of the university’s Health and Physical Education Majors Club who volunteered to teach health at Atlanta’s Mary Lin Elementary School every Friday for five weeks this fall.

“I volunteered to get experience teaching and to be a healthy role model,” Goodson said. “I’ve been playing sports all my life. It’s a way to stay active and to introduce other lifetime sports to children as they grow up.”

Professor Shannon Williams talks about the importance of exercise with children at Mary Lin Elementary School.

Shannon Williams, a clinical assistant professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State, said the partnership provides a new way for Georgia State students to get an early start at gaining teaching experience during their junior year. For Mary Lin teachers, the program provides assistance in meeting state mandated health education requirements.

“I provided the basic lessons plans for the students. They had to implement the plan,” Williams said. “I wanted the students to become comfortable working with students in a more traditional classroom setting. Our students are certified in both health and physical education for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, so it’s important that they get exposed to every level of student and content.”

By volunteering every week at Mary Lin, Goodson taught almost 40 classes this fall, including lessons on safety, first aid and smoking.

During his lesson on physical activity students leaped out of their seats to do exercises, drew pictures of their favorite physical activity and yelled out answers to questions about the difference between flexibility, strength and endurance.

“I like learning about this so that I can be healthier than I already am and so that I can learn about different ways of exercising,” said Ava Smith, a third-grade student at Mary Lin Elementary. “I love doing things like ballet and swimming.”

Lindsay Wyczalkowski, a Georgia State alumna who teaches at Mary Lin, said she has been very impressed by the Health and Physical Education Majors Club volunteers.

“It has been amazing,” Wyczalkkowski said. “I teach six subjects everyday and it helps to have people focused on health coming here to teach. I’m able to learn from them as well and my kids like having a fresh face in front of the classroom.”

While Williams hopes the experience will prepare Georgia State students to become better teachers, she also hopes the students at Mary Lin will use the lessons to live healthier lives.

“It’s sort of an early prevention program for students here,” Williams said. “This is the time where kids are starting to form their habits and the earlier we get to them the better.”

Dec. 17, 2012