Pilot Project Helps Transform K-8 School through Sport Culture, Physical Activity, and Wellness

The American Sports Institute has produced two highly-successful educational programs, one of which was a pilot project. The program—Promoting Achievement in School through Sport (PASS)—has been called “a model for total school reform … that addresses the needs of the whole learner—intellectual needs, motivational needs, and other needs such as students’ physical and social needs,” by researchers at a division of the U.S. Department of Education (see pg. 5 of McREL Report pdf).

For the pilot project, Evan Smith, former principal of K-8 Coulterville-Greeley School, located at the northern gate to Yosemite Valley in Mariposa County, California, called upon the American Sports Institute to implement an expanded version of the PASS program—the PASS/Arete Pilot Project—to help transform his under-performing public school.

Through a series of ongoing training sessions with all staff members, the entire school fully embraced the PASS/Arete Pilot Project and its sport culture, physical activity and wellness-based, body-brain integrated learning methodology and curriculum, and wholeheartedly implemented it.

Here’s an e-mail that the now-retired Smith sent the American Sports Institute (pdf), stating that the PASS/Arete Pilot Project was a major factor in Coulterville-Greeley School increasing its state test scores 212 points, earning the honor of becoming a California Distinguished School. And here’s a page from the California Department of Education evaluation committee’s report (pdf) that references the impact of the PASS/Arete Pilot Project.

In the following three short video segments, Smith talks about several significant aspects of the PASS/Arete Pilot Project, including bottom-line results:

The overall impact of the PASS/Arete Pilot Project (00:56)

Bottom-line results:  212-point increase in state test scores leads to being honored as a California Distinguished School (01:02)

Smith cannot understand why other district schools declined to implement the PASS/Arete Pilot Project despite the transformational results at his school (01:34)

Watch Smith tell the complete story (16:05)

The following is a visual overview of particular elements of the PASS/Arete Pilot Project that played a major role in transforming Coulterville-Greeley School into a California Distinguished School:
morningAerobicActivity02morningAerobicActivity01morningAerobicActivity03First thing every morning, all students engaged in some type of aerobic activity. At Coulterville-Greeley, the students would run, jump rope, and do a step activity. Looking to set a good example, the teachers always participated.

ceremonies01ceremonies02ceremonies03Rituals and ceremonies were an integral part of the Coulterville-Greeley program. After the morning aerobic activity outside, a daily, group clap-in activity led by the teacher began the classroom day, and a daily clap-out led by a student ended each day. Another important ritual took place daily in each classroom where a different student was honored as the Athlete of the Day by having three classmates and the teacher say positive things about the student.

tenMinutesConcentration01tenMinutesConcentration02tenMinutesConcentration03Immediately after the group clap-in activity, the students in every classroom would do a 10-minute concentration practice, sitting perfectly still with their eyes closed.

physicalActivitiesClassroom01physicalActivitiesClassroom02physicalActivitiesClassroom03After the concentration practice, the students would do light, physical activities in the classroom to mentally prepare them for the class work they were about to do.

balanceActivityClass01balanceActivityClass02balanceActivityClass03Integrated, body-brain lessons included studying the Fundamentals of Athletic Mastery (FAMs), and how the FAMs manifest themselves in physical activity, academics, and all aspects of life. This lesson plan that combined physical activity and academic work was on the FAM balance, and included quotes from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, French artist Henri Matisse, and American writer/poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

bodyBrainLesson01bodyBrainLesson02bodyBrainLesson03Another body-brain lesson plan that integrated physical activity and academic work was on the FAM flexibility.