The First Tee Program is one of the most highly anticipated units for my students, at all grade levels, each year. They like to swing clubs, bats, racquets, etc. at balls, and they love the challenge of trying to hit a target with the balls. By the end of the unit, most students have mastered the proper grip and stance, know the cues for safety and execution of strokes, have improved hand/eye coordination and striking skills with implements, and are displaying good character. Students find that they can be successful in golf without being tall, fast, fearless, etc., and success parlays into a physical activity that they enjoy and may choose to pursue outside of school.

As part of its program, First Tee emphasizes its Nine Core Values and Nine Healthy Habits. The core values are an important part of golf, but they are the same values we expect students to display at school and in life in general. Throughout each lesson, students have opportunities to display good judgment and respect as well as other values. The healthy habits are reminders to the students that they need to take care of their bodies physically through being active, socially through their interactions with others, and emotionally as they deal with their feelings.

First Tee schools receive online training which covers lessons, how to instruct those lessons, and how to organize gym or outdoor space for student safety and the efficiency of instruction and activity. In addition, all of the online materials are provided as a hard copy. The First Tee website includes a “Teacher Toolbox” with additional lesson ideas. I have found the First Tee lessons to be teacher-friendly as well as being closely aligned with the national physical education standards for motor skills as well as those for personal and social behavior.

The First Tee equipment is age-appropriate with various lengths of clubs provided so that all of my students from Pre-K to grade 5 can participate. Club grips are lined with yellow and red dots to help students know the proper placement of their hands. There is a sufficient number of clubs, balls, launch pads, and targets included with the equipment to accommodate a whole class.

As a veteran physical education teacher who has seen many programs target physical activity and fitness, I am delighted to endorse the First Tee National School Program for many reasons. First and foremost, my students are learning a lifelong sport/physical activity, meeting national physical education standards, developing character values for school and home, and enhancing their physical, social, and emotional wellness. With the focus on testing in education, physical education often finds itself in competition with academics for instructional minutes. First Tee has provided multiple opportunities for me to incorporate core subject instruction of math, language arts, science, and geography into my physical education program enabling me to collaborate rather than compete with academics. I look forward to the continued implementation and growth of the First Tee Program.

Jane Sutphin

Crescent Elementary School

Beckley, WV