July 16, 2024

USD 259 Discriminates Against PE Departments?

One of the latest additions to Wichita South classrooms are the Clear Touch Interactive Panels, or as they have been colloquially dubbed the new “TVs”. There are currently 97 Clear Touch Panels in the building; one going in the library and the others are occupying classrooms. Despite being in most classrooms the Panels have not made their way down T/J hall. T/J hall is the home of south high’s PE department. T/J hall includes the weight room, both gyms, the wrestling room, the pool, offices, and the trainers office, as well as multiple classrooms. These classrooms are used for a variety of classes and show that T/J hall are as in need of the new technology as any other classroom.

Mr. Rogers shared information with The Torch on how the clear touch panels were received.

Principal Rogers: “The clear touch panels come from the district as well. They did different stages and we were the last, one of the last schools, to get them and its just the districts way of trying to stay up to date with technology. [Technology that is] user friendly for the teachers. You’ve probably been in some classes where teachers are using it, where they can post put their screen up there and navigate just like its their Surface Pro, and so it’s just the update.

So they came in they took out the projectors, I don’t wanna say those are old school, because we still use them in some classrooms. But they took all those away and in the long run I think it’ll be good because the teachers can move it around the room. They’re not set to one wall and again you can stream anything on your surface pro, on the teachers computer, and navigate just like its a computer for everyone to see

I’m excited. The teachers were trained a couple weeks ago on it, so it’s still fairly new to all the staff, so there will be some learning that has to be done. East High School was the first high school that got ’em and the feedback was very good from the teachers.

PE Department Chair, Ms. Winter in a freshman PE class, one where a touch panel would go

The first room down T/J hall that has received a touch panel would be the weight room. The clear touch panels are viewed by most of the department as a potentially huge asset to Physical Education classes. Among the officiating class, and the CPR and life training class, freshman spend a major part of the school year in the classroom.

Principal Rogers, and coaches Westmoreland, Wells, and Brownell were asked to relay their thoughts on the new panels.

Coach Brownell: “We were originally not scheduled to get any. The PE department was really not scheduled to get any, and that was across the district. A lot of the high schools that we talked to, they weren’t getting them either so we weren’t the only one. And it was unfortunate that we kinda felt that way at first, but at the very least I know we got one, but I think there’s more coming I think we know the need we have for them just like every other classroom. To be fair what we do is just as important as what everybody else does in their classrooms so we feel its important, and I think the people in our building are working hard. Our PE department chair, Ms. Winter, Mr. Rogers, I think they’re working hard to get some more down there. But I think they’re gonna be great. Great for our kids, it was great the other day in weights I was able to show a video, you can just pull it up on there and show a video and it’s huge and you are able to show the exercises so the kids can see it. So it’s gonna be great I’m gonna enjoy playing with it.”

Coach Westmoreland: “We are in need of [the clear touch panels] as we teach our freshman classes in the classroom, and also our officiating class teaches in the classroom, as well as CPR and our Health class as well. So we are definitely in need of them in the classrooms because they’d definitely be beneficial to us because we would use them, and I forgot to mention the weight room. The weight room probably needs it just as bad as anyone else. So yeah they’re in the process of trying to get them for us, so hopefully if we don’t get them this semester hopefully by next year we have at least one in the classroom, one in J-10 and one in the weight room, because they definitely would be used.”

Coach Wells: “I was a little surprised, I kinda heard that we might not get them, just based on the other districts, other schools, other PE teachers were not, but it would certainly be helpful for us in [the weight room]. I know in other classes, like in teaching health but definitely in the weight room as something we would use everyday for our rack program and also just for demonstration of exercises”

Principal Rogers: “Again that was a district decision that they came in and surveyed all the classrooms, and every high school has a PE classroom or multiple PE classrooms, like we have ours there across from the weight room. The weight room[s], I think across the board were left out on the initial [release]. I know we did have one show up in J hall and I think I’ll be able to relocate the one in the library. There’s supposed to be one in the library but I think we’re gonna move that one down to the PE classroom, and so again, yes I’m the principal, but sometimes district decisions on things… But we are advocating for more, especially as a former PE teacher myself. I would love to have all of them, but I think what happened was, and no fault to PE, when they surveyed all the classrooms; when they think of PE they think of the pool, the gyms, the wrestling room, the weight room and they don’t truly think, or they didn’t think about “well there’s classrooms”. So we have our freshman in those classrooms and even in weights and sunlight gets in there it gets hard to read [the projector screen].”

Coach Brownell was asked to share his experiences and feelings on being able to use the new technology.

Coach Brownell: “It’s absolutely great, we were so excited when we first got it because it kinda lets the kids be able to see better than what it is. If you’re familiar with the weight room seeing it on the wall, if it’s sunny outside you can’t see the screen, so it was super exciting to get an opportunity to use it… and the kids, I think love it. It’s a lot louder than what it was before. It’s definitely gonna be a great addition to the weight room.”

Coach Brownell during his 4th hour weights class being able to show a video to the class

Asked about the graduation requirements changing starting the 2024-2025 school year:

Coach Westmoreland: “Yes it is that’s another reason because we brought that up in our CLC meetings that we have on Wednesday and next year they’ll be in the classroom majority of the time.”

Coach Wells: “Yeah I would hope so I know with the health courses that are coming next year it’s definitely gonna change to a little bit more different classroom emphasis and so hopefully there’s something that can be done. I know that we have people in the department that are fighting for it, and Mr. Rogers is aware of it as well and is concerned about that issue too.”

Coach Brownell: “That is absolutely right, the freshman are going to a semester of “PE Activity” and a semester of freshman health. And they already do it, and you’re familiar with that, as a freshman you go through 4 units that are 3 weeks long so that’s 12 weeks of a full year. They’re just pulling it apart out of the PE [activity] part. And they’re just doing a classroom part, so yes that’s another thing too, that we talked about. Those classrooms, whether they’re gonna be freshman PE in there all day, every day we’d like to have [the clear touch panels] in there as well.”

Rogers asked if the district “forgot” about the changing requirements in their decision to not give PE departments access to the clear touch panels.

Principal Rogers: “I don’t wanna say they forgot [about the changing curriculum], so what happened was the state just changed that graduation requirement this year. So go back to what I said, we were on the last phase of these clear touch panels, and so East got their first [clear touch panel] at the beginning of last year, maybe even prior to that. So their teachers have had them for over a year, so once the district had to approve of all those… you’re looking at that’s 2 years ago that the district approved all these. The new graduation requirements, that’s this year… and so I think that there was just a little bit of overlap, or a time frame in between the two, because that was the argument I brought up. There’s a semester long health class now, so freshman starting next year are gonna be in the classroom more than they have been in the past.”

Due to some teachers not enjoying the new technology very much and the PE department asking for more, Rogers was asked if they could be easily moved from a teacher who does not like the new technology’s room to the PE department.

Principal Rogers: “I don’t think it’ll be as easy as that, because I think that the expectation will be every classroom has one and that’s kind of a district directive. And I think what were seeing, and I’m the same way, and I’m not faulting our teachers, sometimes the new takes a little while. It took a while to learn [the surface pro] compared to my dell. So I think some teachers pick up on things real quickly, other teachers just take a bit of time. I think you can probably tell I’m not tech savvy, some teachers are very tech savvy and very current on certain things and there’s a layer there too, that some teachers are more comfortable, and want to learn new things. Other teachers are ‘I already got this plan’ because [the clear touch panels] came out even like the second/third week of January so teachers are already planning. They got the projectors, they’re used to their stuff, so I think in time… they only got trained for like 45 minutes and so I think the more we use them the more the ones that are hesitant… the more they see their colleagues using them, I think we’ll be alright. I think either between now and the end of the year or next year, I think everyone will be pretty comfortable with it because once they see everything that it offers, and I’ve already been in classrooms where teachers are doing all sorts of stuff on it and it’s like ‘that’s really cool’, time will tell”.

Rogers and Brownell on being optimistic and patient during the process.

Principal Rogers: “I think it’ll work out, it’s just sometimes it’s not as timely as we want it to be. But we’re one large district and so sometimes it takes a little bit of time, and I’m good with being patient, but we’re still gonna continue to advocate for [the PE department]”

Coach Brownell: “So yes our classrooms are utilized just as much during the day as most, so again we kinda feel like we’ll get them. So I think they’re coming. I’m optimistic, I’m always a positive person! But I think they’ll get them when they can. I feel the same pain a lot of the PE teachers are [feeling] around the district because some of them are getting them and some of them aren’t but that’s neither here nor there. But I’m excited that I feel like we’re on the right track in getting more down in our area.”

Coach Wells and Brownell asked about the weight room being used all day as well as other classes that use the classrooms down T/J hall.

Coach Wells: “It’s true we do use this [room] every hour, aside from Titan Time and the difficulties that we’ve run into in here as you’ve probably seen, the projector on maximum brightness up on that side of the wall, particularly when we get into spring time and the sun shifts a little bit in the sky it just gets a little more difficult. And one of those [clear touch panels] would go a long way toward making things a little more accessible for the students.”

Coach Brownell: “Officiating, we do have an officiating class, that’s job skill related. You can get certified to referee outside the building, at the Y and stuff like that. We also have our CPR first aid life guard training, again that’s a job skill that we wanna emphasize. Kids getting job skills that they can use outside of the school as well.”

The wall and projector screen referred to in the article