Los Cerritos Elementary School students

It’s Gonna Be a Great Time: SSFUSD’s New P.E. Program

South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) launched a pilot program in August 2023 to provide dedicated physical education (P.E.) to all elementary schools through Legarza Sports.
So far, the new program has been a hit with teachers, students, and parents alike.
“The kids have been enjoying it,” said Spruce Elementary School Principal Angelica Garduño. “They're enjoying having coaches on campus. They're enjoying being able to run around and be able to participate with their grade level peers. It's really exciting.”
Julie Erskine, Ponderosa Elementary School principal, agreed.
“It's a highlight of the day,” she said.
Garduño, who is also mother to an SSFUSD student, added that her daughter is completely sold.
“She really enjoys the games. She really likes that the coaches are very approachable, and that they’re excited to be there, which makes her excited to be there too.”
According to SSFUSD Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Jennifer Rosse, the district used to rely solely on elementary school teachers for P.E. instruction.
However, with the district’s adoption of new curriculum this year, Rosse said it was only fair to support teachers by giving them more time to plan and collaborate.
“It's super exciting, because I think Legarza is a fantastic company, so they provide high engagement to our students,” she said, “and also it provides time for our teachers to prepare for new curriculum that's been adopted such as our new science curriculum, and it kind of takes something off their plate and gives them more time.”
Ponderosa Elementary School students enjoy an afternoon of P.E.
Jason Brockmeyer, SSFUSD's director of innovation and special projects, credited Rosse and the group of teachers on special assignment (TOSA) that she works with for making the proposal for a structured P.E. program with dedicated instructors a reality.
“They put in so much time and energy to bring something forward that was doable,” Brockmeyer said. “There was funding available to pilot, and so I think just the stars aligned for this year.”
Some of the benefits of a high-quality physical education program include the development of gross motor skills, improved hand eye coordination, and increased physical fitness.
However, Buri Buri Elementary Principal Cregg Ramich pointed out that the new P.E. program also has the benefit of presenting students with new role models.  
“Elementary schools tend to be majority of female teachers,” said Ramich, “so having four gentlemen on our campus twice a week—we expect that to be really great for leadership development as well as for models of leadership for our kids.”
Spruce Elementary kindergarten teacher Michael O’Malley agreed.
“This is the first time in my 12 years at the district that we’ve had the program, so I’m very happy with it, and I hope we continue it for quite a long time.”
Brockmeyer said he hopes the pilot program will become a permanent fixture at SSFUSD.
“What we do want to be permanent is that teachers have structured planning and collaboration time, and students are receiving high-quality physical education.”
SSFUSD is making use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the federal government’s COVID-19 relief program to finance the Legarza P.E. program this year. 
Its future at the district will hinge on whether SSFUSD can locate a source of permanent funding.