Kinesiology Major Finds Groove in Adapted Physical Education
All through elementary, middle, and high school, Drew Jones abhorred PE class.
She struggled through sports games like soccer and baseball, and running felt like a drag. Dance, however, has been part of her life since she was 2, but it was never taught to her in school.
The senior kinesiology major wants to change how educators approach PE, particularly for students with disabilities. Looking to enter the teaching credential program this May, Jones wants to become an adapted physical education (APE) teacher and incorporate dance and movement into her curriculum.
“I want to be in a PE class setting where we’re teaching students activities and skills they can use for the rest of their lives, like yoga,” said Jones, who is president of the student-run Expressions Dance Team at Chico State. “We don’t always have to teach team sports. Teachers now are making PE a lot more creative.”
A first-generation student, Jones initially wanted to become a general PE teacher. But, as she began taking adapted physical education courses as part of her minor and then finding service-learning opportunities more impactful, she gravitated toward APE.
“The more that I was working hands-on in the field with some of the professors, the more I realized that I want to do this. I can picture myself being an APE teacher,” she said. “I know this is what I want to do. It’s great being part of a team that is helping someone be successful.”
In the past two years, Jones has had a world of experiences that reinforced her career choice. This January, she made an 8-day trip to the United Arab Emirates with five other students in adapted physical education and communication sciences and disorders, as well as professors Rebecca Lytle and Jessika Lawrence. The students observed, trained, and collaborated with local teachers working with children with physical and cognitive disabilities.
In summer 2022, Jones was part of a group of students to take part in an inaugural study abroad program organized by professor Carli Ross. Jones spent four weeks in the small town of Reggio Emilia, Italy, participating in an adapted physical education camp, where she worked with teens and young adults with physical and developmental disabilities. The group went hiking, swimming, kayaking, rock climbing, and paddleboarding to promote physical activity.
Jones, who keeps in contact with some of the international teachers she’s met, called her two overseas experiences the highlight of her time at Chico State for not only the opportunity but because it’s a testament to her dedication to the program.
“Being selected and recommended for these trips is what I’m most proud of,” she said. “I like to put myself out there and be helpful in every single service-learning program in kinesiology. And I guess me being very persistent has paid off.”
For three semesters, Jones has also volunteered in Chico State programs that provide accessible programming for individuals with disabilities. As part of her roles in BE:WEL and KIDS:PLAY, she is equal parts friend, motivator, and instructor.
“Drew is a fun-loving, creative, caring, and dependable person,” said APE professor Marci Pope. “She looks out for all those around her by listening and knowing their needs and works to make things inclusive and equitable.”
Jones is someone who focuses on an individual’s capabilities and creates an activity that matches their abilities, Pope added.
“I am proud of Drew and happy to see the confidence she has for using the content she learned in classes and displaying it in the experiences she has created for herself during her undergraduate coursework,” Pope said. “I can’t wait to see where this all takes her as she pursues her teaching credential.”
For Jones, it’s important to go into the field of APE to diversify the curriculum to not only offer a variety of activities, but empower her students.
“Students thrive when people recognize their strengths rather than weaknesses—and I want to do everything I can to help students find theirs,” she said.