Press Release


Sarah Benes and Holly Alperin Co-Author SHAPE America’s First Health Education Textbook Aimed at Teaching Kids the Skills to Live Healthy Lives

RESTON, VA, August 16, 2016 — In an effort to ensure today's students are health literate - having the ability to address and enhance their own health needs throughout their lives, Merrimack College Senior Director and Lecturer in Graduate Health Sciences Sarah Benes and University of New Hampshire's Clinical Assistant Professor Holly Alperin have co-authored a new skills-based textbook for K-12 health teachers titled The Essentials of Teaching Health Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

The book is the first-ever K-12 health education textbook endorsed by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, published by Human Kinetics. The book serves as a model for teaching health education and emphasizes an individualized approach to enhancing student learning and developing skills needed to make healthy decisions in life.

"We want all students to develop the 21st century skills they need to maintain or improve health outcomes and succeed in college and careers," says Benes. 

"The idea for this book started about 10 years ago when we were doing a lot of work related to assessment in the health education classroom. We realized that while teachers were improving their practice and were now better able to assess the skills of the national standards, they struggled with how to teach these skills," Alperin said.

Examples of skills students will learn include:

  • Goal setting;
  • Accessing valid and reliable information, products and services impacting one's health; and
  • Analyzing the many influences on health behaviors.

The publication includes:

  • A focus on skill development including skill cues for each skill;
  • Practical strategies for curriculum design and program development, making it easy for readers to put the contents into action; and
  • Real-world examples to help teachers understand and apply the material, along with summaries, key points, and review questions that aid in retaining the information.

The textbook is available for purchase through the Human Kinetics bookstore.  

More about the Authors
Sarah Sparrow Benes, Ed.D, CHES, is a senior director and lecturer in graduate health sciences at Merrimack College. She serves on a variety of health education committees, including the School Health Education Steering Committee for SHAPE America and is the past vice president of health education for the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 

Holly Alperin, EdM, MCHES, is a clinical assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire. Her career has spanned working at the local, state and national levels supporting educators and leaders in the fields of school health and health education. She is a member of SHAPE America.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit