November 13, 2017
Tagged: Health and Wellness Committee, Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management, Adelphi University, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education

HealthNets: Teaching the Teachers of Health Education


by James Forkan and Sophia Conti ’15

How sweet it is! Hosted for the 16th year on the Adelphi campus by the Ruth S. Ammon School of EducationHealthNets Partnerships in Health Conference drew more than 75 health educators from across Long Island and New York City to share health education ideas.

HealthNets—which started as a simple “meeting of the minds” for health educators to exchange teaching ideas on various aspects of health education—stands out as the first and for many years only conference dedicated exclusively to health education in the greater NYC area.

At the latest daylong event, on November 7, 2017 in the Ruth S. Harley University Center, Shannon Whalen Gifford, Ed.D., health education professor at Springfield College, headlined a general session with a lively talk titled “My Health Class Dull? No Way.”

An Ammon School faculty member before joining Springfield, Gifford helped start the HealthNets conference with two other former Ammon School professors, Monica Homer, Ed.D., and Mary Barrese.

At the other general session, Charles Rizzuto, M.A. ’11, an Oyster Bay High School educator, focused on “Prepare, Present, Assess.”

Three breakout sessions—two led by Adelphi alumni—gave conference-goers opportunities to hear new ideas from fellow educators.

Victoria Vagnone ’13, a Richmond Hill High School educator, and Angela Matinale ’11, M.S. ’14, with the High School of Fashion Industries—both Ammon health and physical education majors—discussed, respectively, “Educational Methods for a Diversified Classroom” and “The Reality of Being a Dual Subject Teacher in an Alternative Setting.”

Nathalie Zarisfi, director of Adelphi’s Faculty Center for Professional Excellence, and Emilia Zarco, M.D.M. Ed., chair, Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management, jointly presented an informative breakout session explaining “Grant Writing for Teachers—From Daunting to Doable.”

In addition, organizers and attendees praised the exhibition area. Melissa Wayne, M.A.’06, said that area was enhanced from past years so that exhibitors could better connect with HealthNets participants. “For 2017,” she said, “the exhibitors not only surrounded the conference area to support the breakout sessions but had the opportunity to highlight their work in our large general meeting area.”

She added, “The goal of the exhibition area is for participants to see firsthand the innovative programs offered by community-based organizations, engage in discussions on how to utilize services and programs, and create new partnerships to further everyone’s mission of creating healthier communities.”

A year ago, technology was in HealthNets’ spotlight, in part due to more schools distributing tablets to their students. To stay current, health teachers must keep up with technological advances and other innovative teaching methods, such as creating games that promote correlation of risky behavior and outcomes.  

Rizzuto, in the session “Managing Your Health World,” presented strategies and technological tools for creating an open, collaborative environment in the health classroom. Andrew Richter ’03, M.A. ’08, North Shore Middle School, in “A Healthier Tomorrow,” introduced innovative activities that teachers could incorporate into their health classes.

During “Fun Ways to Teach Health,” Krista Militelo, Deer Park School District, drew from 22 years of teaching experience to demonstrate some of her favorite health lessons and inspire teachers to energize their old lessons with new ideas and technologies. Joseph Maiello, Harborfield Oldfield Middle School, outlined an “Assessment Plan for Health Education.”

Last year’s general sessions featured: Katie Schumacher, a Rockville Centre teacher who created Don’t Press Send—a campaign dedicated to educating young people about cyber civics and encouraging them to use technology in safe ways—and Bronwen Pardes, a Nassau Community College professor of human sexuality who discussed the use of anonymous surveys to gather information about students that can then be used to make class discussions more meaningful.

For more information about HealthNets, please contact:


Cynthia Proscia
HealthNets Coordinator
p – 516.877.4256
e –

Tagged: Health and Wellness Committee, Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management, Adelphi University, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education
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