School of Education  

POHI (Physical or Other Health Impairment) Major

This program is currently under review and admission of new candidates has been placed on hold.  Please call the School of Education at 616 632-2800  with questions. 
Certification/Endorsement Code: SC
Michigan Subject Area Test Code: 058
Department: School of Education
Programs: K-12 Major
POHI Major Required Courses (57 hours)
A minimum of 28 credits must be taken at Aquinas College
PI 101 Foundations of Conductive Education I (2 credit hours)
PI 102 Foundations of Conductive Education II (2 credit hours)
PI 103 Symptoms Studies I (2 credit hours)
PI 104 Symptoms Studies II (2 credit hours)
PI 201 Neuroanatomy I (2 credit hours)
PI 202 Neuroanatomy II (2 credit hours)
PI 205 Establishment of Orthofunction (2 credit hours)
PI 207 Kindergarten Child (2 credit hours)
PI 203 Neurophysiology I (2 credit hours)
PI 204 Neurophysiology II (2 credit hours)
PI 206 Applications of Orthofunction (2 credit hours)
PI 208 Kindergarten Child (2 credit hours)
PI 301 Conductive Education - Infant & Toddler (2 credit hours)
PI 304 Neuropathology (2 credit hours)
PI 302 Conductive Education - School Age & Adolescents (2 credit hours)
PI 305 Conductive Education Program Planning (2 credit hours)
PI 306 Speech Development for Special Populations (2 credit hours)
PI 401 Neuropsychology (1 credit hour)
PI 402 Comparative Studies of Rehabilitation Mode (2 credit hours)
BY 155 Biology for Health Sciences I (4 credit hours)
BY 156 Biology for Health Sciences II (3 credit hours)
KN 256 Kinesiology (4 credit hours)
KN 452 Physical Activities for Special Populations (3 credit hours)
PI 404 Directed Student Teaching POHI (6 credit hours)

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Aquinas College is the only institution in the United States offering a POHI (physically and/or health impaired) methodology teacher training program utilizing the conductive education method. Professionals from the International PETO Institute in Budapest, Hungary deliver the curriculum, which is designed by Aquinas College with assistance from the International PETO Teachers College. Aquinas students spend numerous hours at the Conductive Learning Center (CLC) in Grand Rapids, working directly with children with cerebral palsy and motor challenges. Aquinas College is only one of two West Michigan institutions offering the POHI endorsement given by the State of Michigan.
What Is Conductive Education?

Conductive Education is a complex educational system, which teaches children and adults with motor disorders to be more functional participants in society. It is an active, cognitive approach, which involves the development of the whole personality: the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and psychological. The acquisition of physical skills is integrated with communicative, cognitive, and sensory learning. Conductive Education was founded by Andras Peto, M.D. (1893-1967) in Budapest, Hungary in the 1940s. Dr. Peto based conductive education on the premise that movement and coordination can be learned. He recognized that the brain could find new routes, which allow for successful motor control.  

Undergraduate Program

Aquinas College offers a POHI undergraduate program focusing on Conductive Education. This program has the following key components:

  • POHI major application
  • General Education courses
  • Elementary Education Teacher Preparation courses
  • POHI major coursework
  • Students are required to pass the State of Michigan Basic Skills Test, as well as meet all other criteria for admittance to the School of Education.
  • The program is run using a cohort model with a minimum of 4-5 students in each cohort
Additional Information
  • The POHI teacher preparation program is designed to prepare the candidate for the State of Michigan POHI endorsement. Specialization in Conductive Education methodology also qualifies the candidate for international conductor-teacher status. Students wishing to explore this major must meet with an advisor in the School of Education for full explanation of course requirements.
  • Application and acceptance into the POHI program occurs each spring. Application deadline is April 15th. Applications are available upon request in the School of Education (AB 260).
  • The undergraduate program for the preparation of teachers of the Physically and Otherwise Health Impaired (POHI) began August of 2001. Curriculum is delivered by Peto Institute and Aquinas College faculty. The emphasis is on the conductive education pedagogy and methodology.
  • Students completing this program earn an Elementary Education teacher certification and a K-12 Physically and Otherwise Health Impaired (POHI) endorsement.
  • Students enroll in eight semesters of concurrent theory and application work.
  • Students must have reached requisite sophomore status and have a 2.5 grade point average in order to enroll in the program, as mandated by the Michigan Department of Education. 
POHI Links
Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan Spina Bifida Association of America
National Institute of Conductive Education - UK United Cerebral Palsy
Inter-American Conductive Education Association
FAQs for POHI Students

What Made You Decide to be a POHI Major?

Andrea : "I was always interested in occupational therapy and education, especially working with kids, and Conductive Education combines both of those things. When I visited the lab school (at Aquinas), I fell in love with it immediately."


Clare : "I always wanted to do special education. My sister went to school (at Aquinas) and I heard about the (POHI) program that way."


Melissa : "I had no idea about it and an AQ recruiter was at my school. I wanted to go into special education and he told me about the POHI program. It was brand new - he didn't even have a brochure on it. I came up to visit Aquinas and the lab school. When I visited, you could just see that the kids liked it, the teachers liked it and they were learning."


Jamieson :"I first wanted to do physical therapy, but the demand wasn't here. I knew I wanted to work with kids, and was thinking about teaching. When I saw the program and the rewards from it, I immediately wanted to do it. It's so different and so interesting."


What Do You Find Appealing About the Conductive Education Method?

Andrea : "A lot of the families see a benefit to being in conductive education. It benefits the families as well as the kids. It's meant to help integrate kids with family and peers. I enjoy seeing the kids work to become more independent."


Clare : "The methods used in conductive education are good for all kids. There's not just an academic focus, but a whole body focus. (Conductive education) looks at the whole child."


Melissa : "The fact that it's a holistic approach, but you're always looking at the positive. You're never saying a kid can't do something. We look at the positive aspects, not the negative aspects. More often than not, with conductive education, you see specific results. You're working with a child that when someone says 'they can't do this,' you say 'Yes they can and I'm going to find a way.'"


Jamieson : "I want to make a difference. I felt that I could by helping a child learn to do something someone else said they couldn't. The kids gain such independence. They're very self motivated."


How Much Time Do You Spend at the Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids?

Andrea : "I'm there probably fifteen to seventeen hours a week. It's a little more for me since I'm trying to do the (five year) program in four years. The further you get into the program, the closer you get to the conductor role. You learn so much more in those ten/fifteen hours then you ever could in the classroom. Nothing can compare to working at the Conductive Learning Center. I don't know how you could do it without those practical hours. It'd be even more difficult!"


Clare : "We're required to do 10 hours of observation a week, but you also have to plan your lessons."


Jamieson : "I do ten to ten and a half hours a week at the lab school, plus you also have lesson plans and observations. You start working as soon as you walk in the door. Even as an observer, it's hands on. You learn from experience. And at any time, you can ask questions. No child is the same. No cerebral palsy is the same. If you just did text book work, you wouldn't understand what conductive education is all about."


How Do You Feel Working With POHI Kids Has Affected You?

Andrea : "I've become a more patient person. I'm more willing to let things evolve at a slower pace. I think I can sense better when someone need help. It goes beyond the classroom; I think I'm more in tune to people's feelings."


Clare : "It's completely affected me. It makes you more tolerant and more patient. It makes you more determined to success because you see how hard they work. It makes you more appreciative of what you have and what you can do. With the community that's built up (at the Conductive Learning Center), you feel needed."


Melissa : "I go home everyday with a story. I think it's made me a better person. These kids work so hard for some of the things that everyone takes for granted. It's inspiring. I work with a five year-old who inspires twenty-two year-olds because he has a goal, and he's going to achieve it."


Jamieson : "It's made me stronger as a person. It's challenged me to set everything happening in my life aside and focus on the kids. The kids make me feel like I could be a better person through my day to day experiences with them. Sometimes I think I've learned more from them than they've learned from me. A lot of the kids are my role models - they're so self motivated and self disciplined."


What Would You Eventually Like to do With Your POHI Endorsement/Degree?

Andrea : "I'd like to be a conductor in the U.S. I'm open to see where this takes me, though. But I really want to work at a Conductive Education school."


Clare : "I'm not really sure yet. I would like to work as a conductor right away. But with the (POHI) endorsement, you're also certified to be an elementary school teacher, so there are a few options."


Melissa : "Teach conductive education internationally. There's a school in London, I'd like to work there. "


Jamieson : "My personal goal is to one day have my own program. I hope, when I graduate, that conductive education has grown more. I love the kids and the families at the Learning Center. I would like to stay at the Center for a while, but my goal is to move conductive education more global."