Taking a look at health, physical education curriculum in East Meadow schools


Jason Supple, the East Meadow Union Free School District’s director of physical education, health and athletics, led board members through an informative presentation Feb. 7 that focused on important initiatives within his department, and the curriculum that students are learning at all levels of early education.

Supple also highlighted the tremendous efforts of East Meadow’s high school athletics throughout the fall and winter season.

Supple said the district’s website has new tab highlighting the district’s nursing services that recently went live.

“You can find it on the district webpage in the menu tab — there’s a circle to the far right,” he explained. “And you can also access that from the menu tab of any building website as well.”

The site offers pertinent forms and information regarding nurses and health services.

East Meadow employs 13 full time nurses, which Supple said is “a pretty robust staffing.”

“It gives us the opportunity to have at least one-and-a-half full-time nurses per building,” he said. “Having that support is critical to our students. Life happens, people have to miss days for various reasons, and having that extra support provides us the opportunity to mix and match and move people around and always have a building staffed with health service employees.”

All of East Meadow’s nurses are certified in CPR, basic life support, NARCAN administration, which is an emergency treatment used for opioid overdoses, concussion management, airway obstruction and Stop the Bleed training.

At the elementary school level, the health curriculum focuses on a “health triangle” that includes mental, physical and social health. The curriculum touches on understanding feelings, learning coping methods and empathy, bullying, peer pressure and self-esteem.

In middle school, students take a half-credit health course every year, high school students are required to take one-half credit, or half a year of health, in order to graduate.

“Some of the targeted learning skills and unit topics (are) decision making, self-management, stress management, planning and goal setting, substance abuse, growth and sexuality,” Supple said. “Mental health is obviously a huge hot topic at this point for adolescents post-Covid. So that’s a big theme running through our health curriculum.”

Supple said most high school students take their mandated health course in ninth or tenth grade, but added that there are electives that students can enroll in if interested, including athletic training and CPR certification, and introduction to exercise physiology. These electives are typically taken by students who wish to pursue something such as athletic training as a career post-high school.

In physical education courses, New York state standards have undergone an overhaul, Supple said. Standards previously included personal health and fitness, a safe and healthy environment and resource management.

“They were very vague,” Supple said of the old standards. “The new standards is six standards, and the big push now is creating lifelong learners and physically literate students.”

In the presentation, which can be viewed on the Board of Education’s YouTube channel, YouTube.com/@EMUFSDBoardofEducation, Supple explained how these new standards are broken down into benchmarks.

“The standards are the framework for the development of knowledge, skills, and social and emotional learning that enables students to transition to being healthy, physically literate adults, which is what we want moving forward,” he said. “We want students, when they graduate, to be able to access community resources and understand that there are resources in the community that enable them to continue to lead healthy lifestyles.”

Elementary physical education programs in East Meadow are activity based and focus on skill advancement, while laying a foundation for teamwork and sportsmanship. Middle school classes are build on that foundation, and introduce team sports and larger group play. Students also have access to fitness equipment, which is integrated into class time.

Supple began his role as athletic director at the start of the 2023-24 school year, and said it’s been great getting out and seeing the curriculum in action.

“I think one of the main highlights for me is seeing all of the fitness equipment that we have in Woodland Middle School and Clarke Middle School,” he said.

In high school, students take a period of physical education every other day. While there’s a focus on team sports and foundational skills, Supple said, there’s also other units and physical education electives that dive into more specific categories of fitness.

Supple highlighted the amazing achievements of East Meadow’s athletic teams at East Meadow High School and W.T. Clarke High School. The district boasts a slew of high achieving athletes — both on the field and in the classroom. Supple credited successes to the district’s coaching staff, thanking them for their commitment and dedication.

“It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself,” Supple said of the district’s athletes.

An amazing program in his department, Supple said, is “Athletes helping Athletes.” Student leaders on teams throughout the district are trained through courses at Adelphi University in areas of sportsmanship, civility and bullying, and drugs and alcohol. They then teach what they learn to younger students.

“It’s building future leaders and it’s getting those sixth-grade students excited to be part of our Athletes helping Athletes program,” he said, “and building the type of student athletes, and athlete leaders, that we want in our buildings.”

For more on the presentation and the athletics department visit EMUSFD.us.