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Robinette Bacon
Robinette Bacon, Nevada

Society Testimonial by Robinette Bacon, Nevada

The stability and viability of our SSLHPE organization is its membership.

As part of the Society's leadership legacy as an emeritus member and former president, I respect and value the professional and personal networking support opportunities I received during my 28 years of state education agency employment from among the best school health and physical education leaders nationwide. This camaraderie from "job-a-likes" and friends who support and encourage each other in state education agencies and who are there during times of trouble and adversity was demonstrated best during my emotional disability period and extended recuperation from cervical fractures and traumatic brain injury work related injuries. The friendships, collegiality, and strong emotional/social support system from our members is this organization's greatest asset and any future services should encourage, promote, and facilitate ease of communication in a "members-only" forum for the continued sharing of knowledge, ideas, and strategies to further enhance the health, achievement, and wellbeing of America's youth.

Linda L. Morse
Linda L. Morse, New Jersey

Society Testimonial by Linda L. Morse, New Jersey

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

~ William Arthur Ward

Navigating the seas of state government can be challenging. There are times when you just want to “abandon ship” and swim to shore without a life preserver. If you are a skilled swimmer, maybe you survive the sharks. In state government, the storms come and go with the political winds. Learning to navigate those waters takes time, patience, and friends who truly understand.

I did not “join” the Society. I didn’t even know what it was—it sounded like an exclusive club. Kathy Wilbur, Maine’s school health guru, cornered me at a CDC meeting and said, “You have to join the Society.” Peer pressure at its best! I joined, I stayed, and I learned. Society members shared a common goal: improving the health of kids. We understood the unique languages of health education, physical education, public health, and government. We knew a lot of acronyms and understood the language of standards and assessment. We were truly multilingual!

We shared our successes and analyzed our shortcomings. We complained about the paperwork and politics and laughed about the idiosyncrasies of working for state government. Our leadership skills were valued and appreciated and utilized. Through it all, we were there for each other.

School health was but a dot in the sea of education so I didn’t get much support on the job. Sometimes, I would come to a Society meeting feeling pessimistic. However, just being with my Society colleagues and hearing their stories inspired me to stay onboard and row harder. Once back at the office, reality set in but I learned how to adjust the sails and stay afloat. And, whenever I felt like abandoning ship, I would talk with one of my Society colleagues who would listen and understand.

The Society helped me stay onboard for 18 years—navigating the changing political waters at the state and federal level. I learned how to navigate choppy waters, adjust the sails, and set a new course for success. Set sail with the Society — we can help you survive the storms ahead!

Janet Ray
Janet Ray, Delaware

Society Testimonial by Janet Ray, Delaware

A colleague of mine, Edith P. Vincent, was one of the original members of The Society and often shared stories with me about gatherings at Gull Lake, MI, and other places. In those days, members would use their personal funds to meet with job like colleagues to share professional experiences, gain insight, and strategize ways to improve the delivery of health and physical education programs. Colleagues became friends and confidants and the networking proved successful in creating opportunities to communicate, market, and advocate for their profession.

In 1995, I joined The Society and shared her experience. Professionally, I started at the education department as an HIV prevention specialist, but before long, my responsibilities expanded to include comprehensive school health education and the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program. It seemed, anything health-related ended up on my desk. Many other state department staff had similar experiences. As members, we developed a comradery and consulted each other on the various issues we faced. We worked together to identify our professional development needs and attended sessions, facilitated by our colleagues which helped us become more informed and better prepared to meet our growing job expectations.

Meetings provided clear and succinct guidance to improve the work we were doing and we had a network of professionals to learn from. It was a non-threatening learning environment that helped us meet the demands of the job—and it was fun!

Even in the most supportive work environment, it can be difficult to understand the challenges of federal program requirements while monitoring state standards and assessment. I encourage membership in The Society to help navigate those challenges and take advantage of the experience and expertise of others.

John Ray
John Ray, Delaware

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Society Testimonial by John Ray, Delaware

As a newly hired coordinator of Health and Physical Education at the West Virginia Department of Education in 1993, I was assigned to the Health Education Assessment Project (HEAP) of the State Collaborative on the Assessment of Student Standards (SCASS) program and I began attending meetings with other state leaders from around the country and was quickly informed of “The Society” by several members. I attended my first annual meeting in Denver. That meeting changed my professional life, being welcomed and mentored by the leaders from around the country and accepted as one of the fold. The comradery was amazing and led to a close emotional and professional bond that continues to the current time. Elected to the president-elect position, was a true vote of confidence for me and through the next three years much time was spent in working with the greatest professionals in the country and I might add close personal friends. As I type this message my heart fills with emotion that will never fade. The “Owed to the Society” by Si [Simon A. McNeely], our long time leader, remains on my wall and in my thoughts.

I would encourage all that become eligible for membership to jump at the opportunity and become involved in this valuable organization. I have represented West Virginia (Almost Heaven) and now Delaware (The Small Wonder) with pride while engaging with those dedicated to strengthening the future of health and physical education for every child in the nation.

Kathy Wilbur
Kathy Wilbur, Maine

Society Testimonial by Kathy Wilbur, Maine

As a long-time member of the Society, past president, and current emeritus member, I reflect back on my appreciation of networking with colleagues who understood the work I did while at the Department of Education. In that multi-dimensional position, few others understood the complexities of the work. Others in my position at Departments of Education across the country provided information, support, and encouragement, with persistence and passion, to pursue efforts to promote quality health education for all students. Society members brought joy, laughter, and friendship to the sometimes difficult and singular approach, while working within a broad educational institution, to keep health education and physical education as part of schools’ basic education programming for students.

As the co-chair of the Membership Committee I have been able to contribute to the revival and viability of this important organization for the benefit of current leaders in the fields of health education, physical education, and overall education that supports the health and well-being of this country’s students.

The benefits I have found in being involved in the Society include reconnecting with past friends and colleagues as well as keeping updated on the current efforts to support health education and physical education at the federal and state levels. It is very rewarding and valuable to me. 

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© The Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education
P.O. Box 41253
Fredericksburg, VA 22404
info@thesociety.org

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