Pfeiffer University partners with Richfield Elementary to teach health, sports

Students at Richfield Elementary took a break from traditional classroom instruction Tuesday to enjoy a different type of education — one focused on the outdoors and getting a much-needed sweat.

To help celebrate World Health Day, the school partnered with Pfeiffer University to provide a slate of health and sports-related activities for the students. The event has been going on for 14 years between the two schools, excluding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindergarten through second-grade students spent time at Pfeiffer’s athletic fields in the morning, rotating through sports stations including soccer, lacrosse, tennis, volleyball and ultimate Frisbee. Pfeiffer athletes and students majoring in education led the stations.

Meanwhile, students in third through fifth grade stayed at Richfield School to take part in other activities, including fire safety (provided by the Richfield Misenheimer Volunteer Fire Department), yoga, running and learning about proper hand washing and staying heart healthy. Pfeiffer nursing students helped with many of these activities.

In the afternoon, the two Richfield groups switched places.

Richfield student Adalynn McKee attempts to score a goal during Tuesday’s World Health Day event at Pfeiffer University.

“It means the world to me to have this partnership with Pfeiffer,” said fifth-grade teacher Lauren Cody, a former Pfeiffer student who helped organize the event.

“It gets our students involved in our community and allows them to see a four-year university that is in our backyard,” she added.

The event provides the students a few hours to relax and hang with friends.

“I love learning the new stuff,” second-grader Korie Salmon said, noting she had already played tennis, volleyball and lacrosse.

She added the event was her favorite day of the year.

The students also foster relationships with Pfeiffer students while learning the value of teamwork and getting introduced to new sports, such as lacrosse.

“You’re still learning, you’re just learning in a different way,” said Richfield curriculum coach Ann Miller. “It’s just wonderful.”

Richfield second grader Madelyn Bowers throws a Frisbee with teacher Cathy Rider looking on.

Melissa Smith, director of community engagement and dropout prevention for Stanly County Schools, mentioned while core subjects such as reading, math and science are critical to a student’s education, so is learning about health and wellness.

“This is an opportunity for them to enhance their social skills, to be physically active and just to embrace the outdoors,” Smith said.

Dawn Lucas, chair of Pfeiffer’s teacher education program and coordinator of the university’s health and physical education program, helped create the event more than a decade ago, when her children were students at Richfield.

“I wanted a way to connect them and also get them engaged and moving,” she said.

As beneficial as the day is for the Richfield students, it is just as valuable for Pfeiffer students, Lucas said, as it offers insight into what it will be like once they become teachers.

“The more practice that we can give them early on, the better they will be as teachers,” she said.

Pfeiffer junior Alex Stancell spent her morning helping students learn about soccer, including presiding over several shooting drills. She enjoys getting to know the kids and introducing them to new sports.

“I like bringing them out of their comfort zone because they might not know what they want to do yet,” she said.