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Alumni of the Month

March 2014
Leslie Pieters

Leslie Pieters Q & A:

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I remember fondly being an SAT (Student Athletic Trainer).  There were only 23 of us in the program! It was so much fun being a trainer, yet so demanding.  As a trainer, our mornings were spent in classes and our afternoons and weekends, in the training room.  We forged a family with each other and with the athletes: sidelining together, wrapping ace bandages, practicing taping on each other’s ankles, sharing therapeutic exercises, traveling and bunking at away games and conferences, and enduring preseason camps, especially football! As we traveled to games, whether by plane to California or by bus to Maine, it was fun to see America in this light.  And travelling by golf cart around Hofstra’s campus, well, that was truly the fondest of all ... simply priceless!

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after graduating from Hofstra was as a substitute teacher.  It was advisable to get into a school system and to be a trainer in the afternoon.  Soon into my teaching experience, I found my calling, which was teaching students physical fitness and prevention rather than pursuing sports injury rehabilitation. The school day was so engaging that I wanted more of that.  It turned out that just a few schools had trainers, and those that did only needed them part-time.  Pursuing education offered me more full-time work opportunities. Hence, the most valuable thing I learned in the school districts where I substitute taught was that my professional passion could change, and so it did.  I am now a 16-year veteran physical educator and loving it!

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
My current field of specialty is physical education, although athletic training prepared me for health, physical education, the sciences and other allied health fields.  I was originally hired as full-time physical science and biology teacher. Soon after, however, I received a phone call about the desperate need for a female physical educator. Thanks to that call, I have been wearing sneakers to work ever since!

What advice would you give current Hofstra students interested in athletic training or physical education?
To current Hofstra students, I would advise:

  • Be ready to work your mind and body; you will sweat and love it.
  • Stay current in your field; 30minutes per day of reading industry-specific matter in truly encouraging.
  • Communicate with others in the field and those in related and complementary fields; it’s amazing what can be learned from a short conversation.
  • Join a professional association; great industry professionals benefit from great minds that think alike.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Terrific!

What is the most rewarding thing about being a health and physical educator?
I believe I have one of the most fun jobs in the world; I play, dance, and laugh my heart out!  With the elementary students, I was the Queen of Play; high school, PE was the respite from study. In middle school, well, it can go either way: I’m either funny or fun!

What was the major obstacle you were able to overcome to succeed with your dance aerobics classes in physical education?
Aerobic dance is a fun, yet challenging discipline to teach the young and mature alike.  There has to be the right comfort zone to teach it and learn it. Those who are serious dancers are prepared to learn technique; those who are not can be socialized to learn it for social purposes.  Convincing the children and adults that dance is as much physical education as sports and games has been a major obstacle.  In education, many times dance is simplified so the work it demands has to be experienced in order to be believed by boys, and sometimes girls! With all of the obstacles, however, I have had successes with:

  • Male and female students who appreciated dance after they realized how much went into it.
  • Student-teachers under my observation who finally understood what their professors were talking about.
  • Parents who've shared funny commentaries that made me laugh until I cried about their children mimicking me at home (these same students showed no enthusiasm in class).
  • Colleagues who came to join classes either by hearing the music down the hall or being invited by students.
  • Parents who joined in the fun while reminiscing about what they did not learn in comparison to what is now taught in PE.

How do you balance work, life and fitness (physically and mentally)?
I begin my day with, “Dear G-d” and end it with, “Amen”!  All that transpires throughout my life has to happen for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  I seem to have acquired angel friends when and where I need them.  I have a great circle of influence of family, peers, mentors, neighbors, and shopkeepers.  Having a safe sense of belonging helps me to physically and mentally balance my busy life.

Leslie Pieters

Leslie Pieters (BS, '97), founder of "One-Minute" Workout, credits her higher education (BS in athletic training from Hofstra and MS in physical education from Queens College) for resolving the challenge of finding time to work out.  An award-winning dance educator (NYS Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance's Amazing Person in Dance Education) and outdoor educator (North American Association for Environmental Education Outstanding Service Award), Leslie is the Roosevelt Middle School's dynamic physical educator, who teaches with an emphasis on social and physical environmental responsibility.

Leslie served as the interim athletic director of the Roosevelt School District on Long Island last spring and has chaired the middle school Health Fair for the last three years. She developed and implemented the girls soccer program and has coached both girls soccer and track and field in the district. She currently serves the Nassau Board of Cooperative Education Services as the Section VIII middle school girls volleyball coordinator.

Leslie is active in the county, state and national sections of the Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AHPERD) and serves as the Dance Section president for the NYS AHPERD. Through her dedication to physical education, she presents a variety of professional development workshops to future and veteran physical educators.

Committed to a healthy lifestyle, Leslie consistently conducts action research and publishes dance articles in the Roosevelt-Freeport Times, Hempstead-Uniondale Times and peer-reviewed articles for The Nassau Zone Newsletter and Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators. As a veteran Afro-Latin social dance educator and dance aerobics instructor, Leslie is also the founder of Afrobics, featuring Reggaerobics, Socarobics and Salsarobics. 

Leslie has written and facilitated several successful grants to combat obesity in Roosevelt while organizing wellness activities, nature “walkshops,” environmental conservation activities, and community outreach in the Roosevelt Preserve and surrounding communities. She also leads  community gardening and neighborhood clean-up projects in Roosevelt. 

Inspired by the conservation work of President Theodore Roosevelt, in what she refers to the heart of New York, Leslie has taken her love of the arts, especially, Reggae music and, nature and health, to produce the annual Reggae Festival for Climate Protection in the Central Leather-Stocking Region of New York.