Students should expect to sweat in Huntington School District physical education classes this year. Teachers will continue to include a significant amount of fitness and movement activities in their lessons and will be stressing vigorous participation by everyone.
The district’s fitness campaign and overall wellness drive has been embraced by the physical education program. Teachers have been ramping up the fitness component in daily classes for several years and students have responded positively by increasingly challenging themselves to hit new personal bests
Huntington Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics Georgia D. McCarthy.
Idle time is being kept to a minimum in physical education classes. There is less sitting out and waiting for a turn and quicker instructions from teachers. “We want to get everyone up and moving and exercising,” said Georgia D. McCarthy, district director of health, physical education and interscholastic athletics.
Teachers will once again be routinely incorporating stretches, exercises, jump roping and either sprinting or middle distance running activities into their lessons this year. Many teachers have been focusing on target heart rates and all will be stressing the many positive benefits of a regular program of exercise.
The history of compulsory physical education in the United States is traced to the post World War I period after the military found draftees in such poor physical condition that basic training had to be extended far beyond the number of weeks originally anticipated. Keeping young people in peak condition was viewed as a matter of national security.
More is known today about the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition, along with foods that are beneficial or detrimental to good health. Huntington UFSD’s food service program is onboard with the wellness drive. Cafeterias are committed to serving fresh, nutritious and good tasting breakfast, lunch and snack items.
Any opportunity to incorporate hints about good nutrition and healthy eating are seized upon. Teachers ask students about their snacks and lunch choices and help the youngsters understand the role food plays in helping a person feel good physically, if not mentally, too.
Students in grades K-6 attend three 40 minute physical education classes per week. Those in grades 7-12 follow an every-other-day physical education schedule.
The harsh winter weather poses a real challenge for Huntington School District elementary grade level principals and teachers who want to provide physical activity opportunities to students during their daily 20 minute recess period.
The youngsters don’t have any less energy in the winter just because it’s cold outside. Being cooped up indoors, both at school and at home creates even more of a need for movement opportunities. Let’s face it: Kids have lots of energy.
Principals are anxious to give students a chance to go outdoors whenever weather conditions permit. When a respective principal takes to the airwaves over the public address system to announce there will be outdoor recess on a winter day, the youngsters typically cheer. When the verdict is for indoor recess a collective moan can be heard emanating from classrooms.
Students are regularly reminded to bring winter jackets to school, along with hats and gloves. When athletic fields are muddy, children can still play on blacktop areas as well as on many pieces of playground equipment.
Ms. McCarthy said that teachers will continue to add fitness and aerobic activities during the 2018/19 school year and will place even more empasis on them in the winter.
While winter is often harsh on Long Island, school officials are aware that it’s still a time when students have to be active. Ms. McCarthy said that elementary principals will be making “every possible effort” to get their students outdoors, even during the winter. School Board members have been equally interested in making sure the youngsters are provided with midday recreational opportunities as frequently as possible.
Huntington UFSD has been on a wellness crusade in recent years, including breakfast and lunch menu redesigns, a policy that discourages consumption of junk food in classrooms, efforts to promote healthy food choices, increased physical fitness activities in physical education classes and renovations to outdoor paved playground areas.
Of course, when it snows, is icy or when temperatures plummet to biting levels, students are kept indoors and sent to classrooms for recess where they are supervised by aides. While indoors, the youngsters usually play board games, utilize educational software on computers, read, draw or sit and chat with friends.
Contact Ms. McCarthy at [email protected] for more information about Huntington’s physical education program.
Huntington UFSD Physical Education Faculty Profiles
Marissa Bergmann has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2014. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2003, she earned an undergraduate degree at Purdue University in elementary education with a minor in reading and obtained a master’s degree at Stony Brook University in liberal studies with a concentration in health science.
Ms. Bergmann has coached high school basketball and field hockey and middle school soccer and lacrosse. She has served as treasurer of the Suffolk County Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association.
Maria Canino has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2014. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2007, she obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees from Adelphi University and Stony Brook University, respectively. She is also certified in health education.
Ms. Canino has coached JV girls’ volleyball, soccer and softball. She is also an active member of the high school’s Natural Helpers club. She regularly attends and has been a guest speaker at the NYS AHPERD conference.
Nancy Conlon has worked in the district since 1986 and been a full-time member of the physical education department’s faculty since November 1992. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1981, she earned a full athletic softball scholarship to LIU-C.W. Post College, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in physical education. She later earned a master’s degree at Stony Brook University. She has coached middle school field hockey and softball.
Karen Fischer has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1995. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1989, she played soccer, basketball and softball for the Blue Devils. She obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Ithaca College where she also played soccer, basketball and softball. She secured her school administrator certification through Stony Brook University.
Over the years, Ms. Fischer has coached varsity soccer (county champions 2003 and 2004) and lacrosse for the Blue Devils. She currently serves as the scoreboard operator for many Huntington indoor and outdoor athletic teams. She has been honored by the Huntington Booster Club and was inducted into the Ithaca College Sports Hall of Fame.
Louis R. Giani
Louis R. Giani has been a full-time Huntington physical education teacher since September 2007. Prior to that, he worked part-time in the district for two years. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 2000, he obtained an undergraduate degree at SUNY Brockport in physical education and a master’s degree at Stony Brook University. He has also worked in Huntington’s alternate high school program. He has coached middle school and high school wrestling and middle school boys’ soccer.
Lynn Hefele has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1988. A graduate of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, Massachusetts, she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Springfield College in physical education and movement science with a concentration in biomechanics, respectively. Founder and president of Literature Enhanced Physical Education, Inc., she has written and published numerous books.
Mrs. Hefele has coached girls’ volleyball on the varsity, junior varsity and middle school levels, JV and middle school boys’ volleyball and middle school co-ed cross country and girls’ track and field. She has also been active in the Special Olympics program.
A longtime executive board member of New York AHPERD’s Suffolk Zone, Mrs. Hefele was a SHAPE America national Teacher of the Year Award finalist. She has made presentations at regional, state and national conferences.
Jim Hoops was appointed coordinator of physical education, athletics and special projects in July 2018. He has worked full-time in the district since April 1984 and has been a physical education teacher since September 1990. He is also certified as a social studies teacher. A graduate of John H. Glenn High School, he obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stony Brook University, through which he also obtained his school administrator certification. He has coached wrestling on the high school level and boys’ and girls’ tennis and girls’ soccer on both the middle school and high school levels. He has also coached middle school boys’ soccer and baseball.
Mr. Hoops has also served as the district’s public information coordinator since July 2001. He maintains Huntington UFSD’s website content and also prepares items for the district’s various social media platforms.
Tim Madden has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2002. A graduate of Hauppauge High School, he obtained an undergraduate degree at SUNY Cortland and a master’s degree at Stony Brook University. He has coached football, basketball, baseball, track, lacrosse and softball at various levels.
Michael Marinello has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1995. He earlier taught at Western Suffolk BOCES for five years. A graduate of Sachem High School, he earned an undergraduate degree at Springfield College in physical education and a master’s degree at Stony Brook University in liberal studies with a concentration in health science. He has coached high school golf, high school and middle school wrestling, JV tennis and middle school baseball and boys’ track and field.
Mr. Marinello is a CPR and First Aid trainer. He has also been a volunteer emergency medical technician.
Eric Mininni has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1998. A graduate of Oceanside High School, he obtained an undergraduate degree at Towson State University in athletic training and physical education and a master’s degree at Adelphi University in health.
Mr. Minnini has coached middle school, junior varsity and varsity boys’ and girls’ volleyball, middle school boys’ track and field, junior varsity girls’ tennis and middle school boys’ tennis.
Alex Nelson has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2017. A graduate of Smithtown High School East, he obtained his undergraduate degree at Adelphi University, where he dual majored in physical education and accounting. He is currently working towards his master’s degree in health education.
Licensed by Eastern New York Youth Soccer as a professional soccer trainer working for Long Island Professional Soccer, Mr. Nelson has coached middle school and JV soccer and middle school basketball. He trains travel soccer teams for the Long Island Junior Soccer League.
Carrie Postel has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2001. A graduate of Sachem North High School, she obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees from Long Island University-C.W. Post and Touro College, respectively. Before coming to the district, she was a part-time health and physical education teacher in the neighboring Elwood School District. She also previously worked as a permanent substitute teacher in Sachem.
Mrs. Postel has coached varsity, junior varsity and middle school girl’s volleyball and middle school girl’s track and field.
John Romano has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2018. He earned an undergraduate degree in sports management at Dowling College in 2007 and obtained a graduate degree in physical education at Adelphi University in 2011.
Prior to coming to Huntington, Mr. Romano taught physical education at PS/MS 206 in New York City and at the Boys and Girls Club in Hempstead and was a leave replacement teacher, internal school suspension supervisor and permanent in Kings Park.
Mr. Romano has coached boys’ and girls’ basketball, softball and baseball interscholastically.
Natalee Schaeffer has been a Huntington physical education and health education teacher since September 2010. She obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees at SUNY Cortland in 2004 and 2006, respectively. She secured her school administrator certification through Stony Brook University.
Prior to coming to Huntington, Ms. Schaeffer worked for several years as a physical education and health teacher in West Islip and as a leave replacement in South Huntington.
She has coached girls’ volleyball on the high school and middle school levels and middle school girls’ lacrosse.
Travis T. Smith has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1998. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1992, he obtained a bachelor’s degree at SUNY Brockport and a masters’ degree at Stony Brook University. He has coached wrestling on both the middle school and high school levels and earned many awards, including national varsity assistant coach of the year in 2004. He has also coached boys’ soccer and lacrosse on the middle school level.
Christopher Taylor has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1996. A graduate of Port Richmond High School in Staten Island, he obtained an undergraduate degree at CUNY-Queens College and a master’s degree at Hofstra University.
Mr. Taylor has coached high school football and lacrosse and middle school basketball, volleyball and track and field.
Eric Triolo has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2000. A graduate of Walt Whitman High School, he obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of Massachusetts and Hofstra University, respectively. He has coached varsity lacrosse and middle school girls’ tennis.
Elizabeth Vogelsang has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 2015. A graduate of East Islip High School, she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in physical education at SUNY Cortland with a concentration in adaptive learning and a master’s degree in health education at West Virginia University.
Ms. Vogelsang has coached varsity girls’ cross country and lacrosse and JV girls’ volleyball. Prior to coming to Huntington, she coached middle school girls’ soccer and JV girls’ lacrosse in Kings Park, winning Coach of the Year honors.
John Walsh has been a Huntington physical education teacher since September 1994. A graduate of East Islip High School, he earned an undergraduate degree at SUNY Brockport and a master’s degree at Stony Brook University. He has coached boys’ volleyball on the middle school and high school levels and varsity girls’ soccer and softball. He is also a CPR and First Aid trainer.