Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 8, 2014

The First Tee

Schools weigh better learning through golf

VALDOSTA — For many children, physical education is one of their favorite classes. In an attempt to build life skills in with a fun class, physical education has often incorporated these skills into the curriculum. Through the First Tee program, area schools have the opportunity to add a new sport to their physical education curriculums, using golf as a tool to help students better understand and adopt important life skills.

Teachers from across the region were invited Tuesday to Valdosta Middle School to participate in the first educational training on the First Tee program. Valdosta City School, Lowndes County Schools, Brooks County Schools and Colquitt County School coaches and representatives participated in the training event.

The First Tee program focuses on nine core values and nine healthy habits. The core values are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. The core healthy habits are energy, play, safety, vision, mind, family, friends, school and community.

Lana Peterson-Pressler, a First Tee representative, led the educational training. In her welcome, she explained the program’s purpose.

“It’s a community-based organization. The First Tee is a great opportunity to bring golf to your kids and more importantly bring youth development to them through golf,” said Pressler.

She introduced local First Tee champions who have supported bringing the program to the area. The champions are District 6 Valdosta Board of Education member Bill Love, Southern Judicial Circuit Judge Jim Tunison, retired Judge Wayne Ellerbee, and Kevin McCraney with Georgia Power.

Love said the implementation of the First Tee program doesn’t cost the school systems anything. Everything is paid for through sponsorships and donations. Some of the largest statewide sponsors for the First Tee are the PGA Tour South Georgia Classic and Georgia Power.

Valdosta City Schools is initially implementing the program in its elementary schools. The system would eventually like to include ages 5-18. Valdosta City Schools also hopes the program will expand to form a chapter comparable to other larger school systems’ chapters.

In the training, Pressler led the group through some typical exercises that teachers would use in the First Tee curriculum.

The first training exercise focused on gaining energy through healthy eating. Coaches were asked to identify fruits and vegetables to match the colors of multicolored tennis balls and to use those foods to make a yummy snack.

The next exercise focused on confidence and self acceptance. During the training, partners walked together and identified points of personal pride. Afterwards, partners shared each others’ points of pride. The possibilities and lessons are endless with the First Tee.

“Anything new that is going to bring excitement to our class is a good thing. It’s also great for our teachers to have something new to offer the kids. What interested me about the program was the support from the community and the character skills that are taught through the program,” said Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Martin Roesch.

Coaches had the chance to see the typical golf lessons including chipping and putting, learn about the curriculum and how to set up a station like they would use for a lesson. This allowed them a chance to learn how the program works and get a better understanding of how it will be implemented within their schools if their systems choose to begin the program.

Tunison said of the training and the program, “Thank you for being here for the children you obviously are committed to as teachers. Our hope is that you will embrace this program and expand it to your students. It is a great program for teaching life skills through a game they can play all their life. I really think you are going to find that this is a wonderful thing to use to teach children great values they can carry with them the rest of their life.”

For more information on the First Tee, visit www.thefirsttee.org

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