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Southard offers Partners P.E. class

Bailey Torres, Emma Goss and Ciera Eppel

Students in the Life Skills program at Southard Middle School are getting to experience physical education like never before. With their own class period and peer tutors to assist, they have an opportunity to get the physical activity they need that sometimes a big general ed P.E. class cannot provide.

Partners P.E. is a new class offered at Southard this year. It is a physical education program featuring supervised peer tutors and individualized learning and instruction.

Coach Kenya Evans oversees the class. She brings 15 years of experience with Partners P.E. from Plano ISD, where she gained valuable insight to enable her to help implement the class in Princeton.

“The purpose of Partners P.E. is to encourage physical activity, increase knowledge of health and fitness strategies and assist in the acquisition of individual lifetime recreation activities and skills associated with team sports,” Coach Evans said. “Partners P.E. is designed to meet the unique physical education needs of students with disabilities who cannot meet the state requirements of regular physical education because of physical, social, emotional or behavioral limitations.”

Gabriella Mujica-Segura and Rebekah Pierce

According to Life Skills teacher Katherine Johnston, the Life Skills students can lose out on the actual physical fitness activity in the more advanced P.E. classes.

“With Partners P.E., we are able to adapt the activities we do to their capabilities,” Ms. Johnston said.

Partners P.E. is also about building relationships with these students so they are comfortable in the physical fitness setting, and the peer tutors serve a vital role in the class, especially with this responsibility.

“Student peer tutors are a valuable asset to the program as they serve as role models and provide one-on-one assistance to help the students get the physical activity they need,” Ms. Johnston said. “Our peer tutors are very good at knowing who needs extra help. And they are very good at interacting with all the students.”

Gabriella Mujica-Segura and Emma Goss

Although peer tutors can fulfill their own P.E. requirements through the class, it offers the students much more.

“This class teaches our peer tutors how to help others and not judge others by their outer appearance,” Coach Evans said. “Our goal is to serve people and have that trickle down to others.”

There are currently three peer tutors working in the class, and they are enjoying their role in Partners P.E.

“Kids in this class are all super nice, it is easy to become friends with them,” said peer tutor Lorenzo Vega. “They have actually shown me how to be more respectful.”

The peer tutors know they are not just by-standers in the class and take their job seriously. But they agree that the Life Skills students make their job easier.

“They are so easy to work with,” said peer tutor Emma Goss. “And they are very accepting of our help. We work hard, but it’s not hard work because it is fun to be in here with these kids.”

Ariel Bradley and Emma Goss

Aside from the relationship aspect of Partners P.E., some of the Life Skills students have adaptive goals because they cannot physically do certain things.

“They may have weak muscles, and we have to use activities and exercise suited to help them to build muscles,” Coach Evans said.

But Partners P.E. goes beyond exercise and fitness.

“We are very proud of what we are doing here through Partners P.E.,” Ms. Johnston said. “Southard and the school district are all for anything that benefits these kids.”

Lorenzo Vega

Coach Evans said the program will continue to expand, and they plan to recruit more students to become peer tutors in the future.

“This program is necessary because the district has to serve this population as well as the general education students,” she said. “As this town is growing so much, the needs of this program will also grow, and we must be able to continue to serve those needs.”