Daley Leads the Way with Quality Physical Education

April 21, 2015

Daley Elementary has overcome challenges to offer daily PE.

Daley Academy Principal Rhonda Hoskins — who serves on Healthy Schools Campaign’s Fit to Learn professional development program’s advisory committee — was ahead of the curve in 2003 when she hired a second physical education teacher so that all students at Daley could have high-quality physical education.

And it’s paid off. “This resulted in improved fitness for every student Pre-K to 8 as well as shows a noted increase in the children’s level of skill and abilities at their varied levels,” she says.

Hoskins’ dedication to providing PE for her students became even more important last year when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) adopted a new Physical Education Policy making PE a core subject. Despite Illinois state policy requiring daily PE for all students, CPS struggled to make this a reality. The new policy now requires elementary schools to provide students with 90 minutes of physical education each week. That increases to 120 minutes next school year and 150 minutes during the 2016-2017 school year. More than ever, CPS students are getting the chance to run, jump and play every day at school.

But there are challenges to making sure all students have high-quality PE. These are challenges Hoskins understands well. One big challenge facing CPS schools is lack of dedicated space for PE. At Daley, the PE teachers use the school’s gymnasium as well as a classroom that’s been converted into a fitness room. All classes spend five weeks in the gym and five weeks in the fitness room every quarter. This schedule allows all students to be active and engaged learners whether the lessons are in fitness, team building or team-based sports, Hoskins says.

Daley Academy also has an athletic director, who recruits teachers to serve as coaches and facilitates the scheduling of sports games and locations. This gives students the opportunity to participate in intramural sports as well as citywide team sports. Each year Daley Academy teachers coach boys and girls volleyball, soccer, cheer, basketball, cross country, and track and field.

Hoskins also works hard to engage the parent community. These parent leaders — many of whom are involved in HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools program — teach children and other parents about the CPS Healthy Schools Policy. They also serve as parent mentors for specific classrooms where they advocate for health and fitness.

Daley was one of the first schools to meet the high nutrition and fitness standards set forth by the HealthierUS School Challenge. As a result, Daley received Healthy Schools Certification for years 2013 and 2014. We recognized Principal Hoskins with the Outstanding Principal Award in July 2014. Most recently, in November 2014, Daley physical education instructor Robert Konopken received a $2,500 award in sports equipment for the PE program.