firstARETE sm


The American Sports Institute has developed and implemented a grades 7-12, one-hour, daily academic course that uses a sport culture, physical activity and wellness-based, body-brain integrated learning methodology and curriculum that has produced outstanding results. Presented to 4,000 students in 59 secondary schools in five states—California, Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, and South Carolina—Promoting Achievement in School through Sport (PASS) has been evaluated by researchers at a division of the U.S. Department of Education. On page 5 of their report, which you can access here (pdf),the researchers concluded: “PASS is 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.”

Click the image to download a pdf about the firstARETE program.

Having learned about the success of the PASS program, Evan Smith, former principal of K-8 Coulterville-Greeley School, located at the northern gate to Yosemite Valley in Mariposa County, California, asked the American Sports Institute if the same principles, practices, and sport culture, physical activity and wellness-based, body-brain integrated learning methodology of PASS could be applied to the elementary-school level and be fully integrated into the entire curriculum throughout the entire day of every school day at his under-performing public school. In response, the American Sports Institute developed and implemented at Coulterville-Greeley School the PASS/Arete Pilot Project. All teachers and staff at Coulterville-Greeley School were trained in the pilot project’s learning methodology and curriculum, which included aerobic physical activity for all students AND their teachers at the very beginning of every school day.

As a result of implementing the PASS/Arete Pilot Project, according to Smith, the students improved their physical health, mental health, social-emotional behavior, self-discipline, self-esteem, and leadership skills (00:56). And, over a six-year period, Coulterville-Greely School improved its state test scores a resounding 212 points (01:02), earning the honor of being called a California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education. However, despite these results at Coulterville-Greeley, when Smith recommended to other principals in his district that they implement the pilot project in their schools, they declined. Smith couldn’t understand why (01:34).

For more about the PASS/Arete Pilot Project at Coulterville-Greeley School, click here.

Given the success of the PASS/Arete Pilot Project at Coulterville-Greeley School, educators asked if the program and its learning methodology could be implemented for a shorter amount of time than throughout the entire school day. In response, the American Sports Institute has produced and now makes available to elementary schools a professional development training program in how to implement a condensed, adapted version of the pilot project called firstARETE.

Student Outcomes

By participating in the firstARETE activities, students realize gains in:

  • Academic Performance
  • Cognition, including Learning and Memory
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Sustained Concentration
  • Responsibility
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Discipline
  • Empathy and Respect for Others
  • Personal Presence and Leadership
  • Acting Individually and as an Integral Part of a Group
  • Respect for Surroundings

Curriculum Design

The student skills, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors addressed in firstARETE are realized through a specifically designed set of curricular activities that, on a daily basis, challenge, engage, and motivate students to do their best individually and as a team. These physical, mental, and social-emotional activities can be incorporated easily into the school day, and contribute to the students’ success and fulfillment throughout the day.

40 min. Aerobic Activity that enhances cardiovascular health, cognition for learning and memory, and social-emotional behavior, providing students the capacity to perform at their best academically and personally. The aerobic activity is performed by all students AND their teachers.
1 min. Clap-In provides a ceremony enabling the students to begin class as a single unit, creating class cohesion and mutual respect between the students and teacher.
5-10 min. Concentration Practice to develop focus, discipline, relaxation, and alertness in order to physically and mentally prepare the students for learning.
7 min. Light Physical Warm-Up Activities to oxygenate the blood and develop focus, discipline, relaxation, and alertness in order to physically and mentally prepare the students for learning.
4 min. Student of the Day to enhance self-esteem and create class cohesiveness and mutual respect in order to improve overall behavior, including empathy and tolerance.
1 min. Clap-Out, lead by the Student of the Day, provides a ceremony enabling the students to end the school day as a single unit, creating class cohesion, respect for other students, and personal presence and leadership.
Open Integrated Physical and Academic Activities that both the teacher and students create that provide challenge, engagement, and relevance for the students, leading to a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.

Professional Development Training

firstARETE teachers are trained in a two-phase process. Phase 1 requires 28 hours of training, and Phase 2 requires four hours of follow-up training.

Phase 1 Teachers receive in-depth, hands-on training, including the firstARETE Curriculum Guide, which contains comprehensive lesson plans.
Phase 2 Input and feedback session with teachers to deal with problems, issues, and concerns; follow-up training to refine procedures, activities, and techniques used in class.
After Phase 2, the American Sports Institute provides ongoing technical support.


$1,280 per teacher

For More Information

Contact the American Sports Institute at 415-383-5750, or


Click here to make a secure, online donation in support of the firstARETE program. This will take you to the Donation page. Once there, select ‘firstARETE’ in the drop-down menu for ‘My donation is in support of.’  Thank You.