Rowing on the Huron River prepares P.E./health teachers to continue ErgEd curriculum

Professional Development session is part of AAPS’ partnership with ErgEd, which brings rowing to PE classes 6-12  

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

The scenic Huron River was the perfect setting for AAPS’ secondary physical education and health teachers to get on the water and row.

Each year the teachers get some rowing lessons in order to teach their own students when it’s their turn to use the rotating set of rowing machines—otherwise known as ergometers, or “erg” for short.

It’s been three years since that training was on the water, and Kristin Stoops, AAPS District Department Chair for 6-12 PE/Health, said it felt great.

“It’s wonderful to be back and able to actively participate, taking training and elements from practice on the ergs and transferring it to the water,” she says. “This partnership with Washtenaw Rowing Club brings a non-traditional sport to all secondary APPS PE programs.  This provides many students with erg instruction and experience many may otherwise not have.” 

Although logistics make it impossible to get students in P.E. classes on the river, they do get the chance to experience a new sport, and consider the possibilities of joining a crew team, says Kit Barrett is director of rowing at Skyline High School and the Washtenaw Rowing Center in Ann Arbor, which partners with AAPS to provide erg education training through a 2017 grant.

“Today we’re actually going to teach the PE teachers how to row so they can better connect the rowing on land to the water which we hope opens up a lot of doors for kids who are looking to go try a different sport in high school, or college and especially from a scholarship perspective,” he says. “It really opens up doors on the women’s side as rowing was the counterbalance to Title Nine for football and so it has opened up huge accessibility options for students across the country and we’re just excited to be a part of it.”

Thursday’s training took place at the Concordia University Boathouse at the edge of the Huron River—which is the after-school home of the Skyline Crew Teams.  

Skyline PE teacher Kim Jackson says erg ed is one of her students’ favorite units.

“They get very excited when we bring out the ergs,” she said. “The (George) Pocock (Rowing) Foundation has put together lessons that are very easy for teachers to read and present to the kids. They’re very creative. They provide a lot of energy for the kids. And they’re also easy for teachers to be able to adapt or provide your own spice too. We’ve been using them for several years now. And it has allowed me to feel I know quite a bit about rowing myself because I’ve taught these lessons several times in my class.”

She says she appreciates the partnership with the Washtenaw Rowing Center for the support they provide AAPS teachers.

“I’m a huge fan,” she says. “I can’t say enough.”

For more background on ErgEd in AAPS, click here.

PE/health teachers from AAPS middle and high schools brush up on their rowing skills on the Huron River.

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