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 Web site 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 here on campus. It was agreed that we would develop the content, write the HTML 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 Editor. 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 prestigious awards and honors. The Editorial Staff of PE Central has undergone some changes as well with Mark becoming the Executive Editor and in the Summer of 1998 Dr. Eloise Elliott, Department Chair of the Health and PE Program at Concord College in Athens, WV, took on the role of the second Senior Editor of PE Central. Todd remained the Senior Editor from his new position as Assistant Professor in the Health and PE Program at Brigham Young University. The 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, Link checkers, and other personel have also been added to help provide our many viewers with quality content and information.
In the summer of 1997, FlagHouse, Inc., a direct mail marketer of products for physical education, recreation, special education, and rehabilitation located in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, became our Founding Sponsor. FlagHouse, Inc. and PE Central continued their working relationship through August 31, 2005.
PE Central began a new chapter in existence by signing a long term alliance with S&S Worldwide beginning on Sept. 1, 2005. We are very excited with this partnership as it will allow 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.
More PE Central Information:
Mark Manross, Executive Editor
Originally written: 12/29/96