The History of PE Central

by Mark Manross, Executive Director

The idea of PE Central originally began in the Fall of 1995 by Dr. George Graham and the doctoral students in Virginia Tech's Health and Physical Education Program. Mark Manross, Todd Pennington, Eloise Elliott, Kim Oliver, Starla McCollum, Sarah Westfal, Cathrine Himberg, Natalie Doering, Jennifer Chomicky, and Sharon Whitlock were the original doctoral students in our Special Topics Class who framed the idea for PE Central. Reginald Kimball and Mike Burch were Masters students who also participated in PE Central's development.

After participating in several brainstorming sessions during this seminar it was decided that we would develop a Web site that would be available on the Internet. Primarily, we wanted a place for K-12 physical educators to visit that would provide them with information and resources to help them deliver developmentally and instructionally appropriate physical education to their students. Some ideas to include on the site were assessments, health and physical education lesson ideas, job announcements, links to the top sport and instructional sites on the Web, wellness tips, and instant activities that would change on a weekly basis.

The decision to make a website as opposed to publishing a book or an article was made because of its far-reaching potential to physical educators around the world. We also did several web searches for quality instructional physical education sites, and found very little that was directly designed for the K-12 physical educator.

Physical educators in the field were then queried as to what they thought would be valuable on such a site. We used a research approach called "Scenario-Based Design" which has individuals think through and write out what they would include on the site. They would also articulate exactly how they planned to navigate the site to get to the information they wanted to include on the site. The results indicated that these physical educators wished to include similar items that we had originally planned to include.

We then forged a working relationship with the Instructional Technology Department at Virginia Tech. It was agreed that we would develop the content, write the web pages and then the technology team would provide the server for it to be housed, provide consultation as to design features and problems, and they would provide technical assistance. Dr. John Burton, David Carter-Tod, Zeke Erskin, Sookyoung Lee, and Carolyn Kletnieks formed the technology team. Jackie Meese joined the team later during its stay on the College of Human Resources and Education's Web server.

PE Central's first Web pages were built on July 4, 1996 by Mark Manross who is now the Executive Director. For the next three weeks he designed, built, and provided the content for the early pages of PE Central, using the content that was brainstormed over the previous year as well as providing some new information that he put together on his own. With the assistance of Dr. Graham, they designed and edited what would be the first draft of PE Central.

Todd Pennington, another doctoral student in the Health and Physical Education Program at Virginia Tech at that time, joined Mark and Dr. Graham after the third week of work on PE Central. Todd and Mark became the Senior Editors of PE Central with Dr. Graham taking the role of Senior Advisor. PE Central made its debut on the Web on Aug. 26, 1996.

Since its debut PE Central has been accessed by millions and has also garnered a number of awards and honors. The Editorial Staff of PE Central has undergone some changes as well with Mark becoming the Executive Director and in the Summer of 1998 Dr. Eloise Elliott took on the role of the second Senior Editor of PE Central. Todd remained the Senior Editor for a number of years while being an Assistant Professor in the Health and PE Program at Brigham Young University. Eloise moved on to WVU and has since been a great supporter of PE Central but is no longer a Senior Editor. Both Todd and Eloise continue to support the site on a daily basis and Todd and his Masters student Amber Hall completed a study on PE Central in 2014. The volunteer staff at PE Central has now grown to include a number of Managing Editors who update and manage different sections of the site. Advisory Board members have been added as well by the Managing Editors with their role of reviewing and reacting to submitted ideas from visitors. Contributing Editors, and other volunteer personel have also been added to help provide our viewers with quality content and information.

PE Central began a long term alliance with S&S Worldwide beginning on Sept. 1, 2005. This partnership allows PE Central to grow and expand and reach new audiences. To learn more about our partner, S&S Worldwide, view their history page on their Web site. Due to their support, our audience will be able to continue to enjoy the premier web site on the Internet for health and physical education professionals.

As PE Central moves into the new milennium we hope to continue to bring visitors the latest information about the teaching of Health and Physical Education. Our primary mission is "to assist teachers, parents, and others who work with youngsters to guide them in the process of becoming physically active and healthy for a lifetime". We certainly do appreciate all of those folks who have visited our site. The growth and popularity of the site has gone beyond our wildest imagination.

Update (12/30/15): In March of 2015 PE Central and S&S Worldwide worked together to completely redesign PE Central. The new design is attractive and very inviting and has been a big hit with our audience. The searchability of the site has been dramatically improved and the lesson ideas, our most popular section, is much easier to use for teachers to find their favorite lessons. The site is now mobile friendly which makes it much easier to view on a smart phone or a tablet.

On December 28, 2015 PE Central opened it's new Professional Development Services which includes online short courses designed for physical educators who want to earn PD clock hours towards their teacher license renewal. In addition, we opened our onsite workshop offerings as well. Our first workshop happened on March 14 in Henry County, Georgia. Three of our presenters (Brenda, Misti and Cindy) trained 99 teachers on how to implement Project Based Learning in physical education.

More PE Central Information:

Mark Manross, Executive Editor
Originally written: 12/29/96
Revised: 6/29/99
Revised: 9/1/05
Revised: 5/19/09
Revised: 12/30/15
Revised: 10/27/16

PE Central exists to assist teachers, parents, and others who work with youngsters to guide them in the process of becoming physically active and healthy for a lifetime.