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UM Offers Degree in Health and Physical Education

Beginning in August, the University of Mississippi School of Education will offer a new bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.

A new bachelor’s degree in health and physical education offered by the University of Mississippi will prepare students to become effective K-12 health and physical education teachers who use collaborative practices that cater to the needs of 21st-century learners. Getty Images photo

The program will prepare students to become effective K-12 health and physical education teachers who use collaborative practices that cater to the needs of 21st-century learners.

“This new program has been developed with the forethought of where health and physical education has been and how we envision it to fit the needs of the 21st-century teacher and learner while enabling it to stand out from the rest,” said Alicia Stapp, program director and assistant professor of health and physical education. 

“With this, we wanted to change the traditional mindset of health and physical education to one that focuses on lifelong learning, health and physical activity.” 

Highlights of the health and physical education program include: 

  • A special education endorsement available with two extra courses
  • Authentic field experiences in diverse K-12 settings
  • Professional memberships and leadership opportunities in health and physical education
  • Chances to lead professional development at the Mississippi Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conventions
  • An option to add a second bachelor’s degree in exercise science with the fifth year of study

Over the past six years, Stapp and other faculty at the School of Education have developed initiatives to promote comprehensive school wellness and physical education including wellness and physical activity endorsement established in 2015; Moving Across Mississippi, a standards-based movement video series that was developed and implemented with Mississippi primary teachers; and graduate coursework in wellness and physical activity. 

“One of my top priorities when accepting my job with the University of Mississippi was to develop a sense of value and appreciation for teaching of quality health, wellness, physical education and physical activity within all teacher candidates, no matter their major,” Stapp said.

“With all of this in place, it was only natural that the next step in the process was to begin the development of a quality undergraduate program in health and physical education that would support the need for quality health and physical education across Mississippi.” 

The new program builds on the strides that Ole Miss has taken over the last decade to promote health and wellness in schools across Mississippi. 

“In Mississippi and the nation, it is critical that educators work to support both the academic as well as the social-emotional and physical well-being of our students,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “Our current elementary and special education endorsement in wellness and physical activity prepares educators to integrate research-based practices to activate the brain and body in an academic setting to educate the whole child. 

“Our new health and physical education program support the growth of this endorsement and requests from students and schools in Mississippi.”

The health and physical education degree program also will include content-specific courses in the UM School of Applied Sciences, including health promotion, nutrition and exercise science. Students graduating from the program will be licensed to teach K-12 health and physical education. 

For more information about the bachelor’s degree in health and physical education visit http://education.olemiss.edu/academics/programs/health_physical_ed_bae.html.

By Meaghan Flores, University of Mississippi Communications

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