How PETE Impacts the PE Profession

Even if you’re a physical education professional, the acronym PETE may not immediately resonate with you. PETE … no, not your friend Pete … probably something with physical education — but what?

And, members of the PETE community might be wondering why is PETE mentioned without its partner, HETE?

Today we’re talking about PETE (physical education teacher education) and HETE (health education teacher education) because members of both communities will be gathering in Salt Lake City next week for the 2018 PETE & HETE Conference, an event that happens once every three years.

My PETE Mentors

As an educator who has spent my entire career in K-12 education (except for teaching three grad-level classes), I’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about PETE or pondering the influence the PETE community has had on our profession.

Still, I can recall three PETE professionals — Dr. Lynn Owens, Dr. Catherine Ennis and Dr. Margarite Arrighi — who formed the core group of PETE educators who taught me at the University of Maryland in the mid-1990s.

To this day, I still use lessons from each of them, and their books, research and class notes are references that sit on my shelf and are checked frequently. Dr. Owens taught me and my classmates about professionalism, and Dr. Ennis and Dr. Arrighi instilled in us a pursuit of knowledge in pedagogy, with an appropriate balance between research and practicality.

All of us have professors and mentors who helped shape us. Consequently, the effect of PETE professionals is ongoing and as we carry their lessons forward their influence lasts potentially for generations.

The Future of PE

One of the most endearing parts of the PETE community is not only do these professionals educate future generations of teachers on methods and the research that forms those methods, but many also conduct research themselves. Without meaningful research that continues to revolutionize and improve our professional practice, we risk becoming stagnant and outdated.

While much of my role at the PETE & HETE Conference will be as a facilitator and logistics person, I can’t wait to learn and listen and be a small part of the PETE community, if only for a few days. Learn more about the conference.

Christopher Hersl

Christopher Hersl is vice president of Programs & Professional Development at SHAPE America. Reach him through Twitter @SHAPEvpPPD or email at