DCPS schools receive national award
HES, MLES and DCMS earn ‘Let’s Move!’ honors
Highland Elementary School, Meadow Lands Elementary School and Daviess County Middle School have earned 2015 National Healthy Schools Bronze Awards for leading comprehensive health, physical activity and wellness efforts during the 2014-15 school year. They are among 12 schools in Kentucky who will be recognized at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 2015 Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., in October. Physical education teachers Amy Bouchard (MLES) and Alese Ferrell (DCMS) and assistant principal Carrie Munsey (HES) have been invited to attend.
The Let’s Move! Active School National Award is based on schools’ improvement of nutrition and wellness services and physical activity programs to meet or exceed rigorous standards set by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, which provides schools with guidance, professional development, access to national experts and evidence-based resources and tools to help them create and sustain healthy school environments.
Schools must meet high standards of achievement in each of seven content areas that address school health improvement: Policy/systems, school meals, competitive foods and beverages, health education, employee wellness, physical education, and student wellness.
DCPS Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins said all 18 schools volunteered to participate in the Healthy Schools program, which is part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, beginning in 2013. Each school established its own wellness committee and developed a plan to meet goals in the seven areas of school health.
“Students and staff have both benefited from the outstanding work of our school-level wellness committees,” Robbins said. “We are also fortunate to have outstanding support from community partners such as Owensboro Health and the community-based Passport Health Plan, who teamed up to provide the GoNoodle program in our classrooms, which encourages physical activity breaks throughout the school day. The hospital also recently provided grant funding to add fitness stations to walking trails at Country Heights and Sorgho elementary schools.”
With three award recipients, the Daviess County Public Schools district leads the state in schools earning the Bronze Award. “I am so proud of these schools for the efforts made toward this recognition,” Robbins said. “They have set the bar for our DCPS Healthy Schools Initiative!”
“These schools represent the elite who understand the value of a healthy environment and how it leads to better learning, attendance and lifelong healthy habits,” said Jacy Wooley, who serves as the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools program manager for Kentucky. “A recent study has shown a direct link between schools who participate in the Healthy Schools Program with decreased rates of obesity.”
HES assistant principal Carrie Munsey said, “Highland is so excited to be committed to helping students learn and grow through the integration of the Healthier School’s Program. The focus is to help students and staff make the healthiest choices and to enhance our ‘Healthy School’ environment. Students are ‘Motivated to Move’ at HES – before, during and after school.”
“This award is very important not only to our school but to the district. Hopefully it will educate and motivate students and faculty to understand the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition habits,” said DCMS physical education teacher Alese Ferrell. “DCMS has been a great support and encouragement to me through this endeavor. I couldn’t do it without the people I work with. Not only do they give me ideas they have really embraced the Wellness Wednesday Emails, wellness challenges, Mileage Club, monthly massages and healthy snacks from Wheatgrass Juice Bar. The Healthy Schools Program and Jacy Wooley have also been a huge asset on paving a roadmap for DCMS and the school district. With new ideas and continuous support, I look forward to many more wellness endeavors.”
DCMS also involves the entire community in its fitness endeavors. The school will host its second annual Boo Run on Oct. 31. The unique 3K/5K invites runners and walkers to dress in Halloween costumes for a morning of fitness and fun.
Amy Bouchard, MLES physical education teacher, said, “The culture of Meadow Lands has always revolved around our mission of ‘Leaping into Learning.’ We are committed to creating an Active School environment and as a result, we are enhancing the learning that is taking place in our classrooms. Receiving the Let’s Move! Active School Bronze Level Award reaffirms our commitment to our students. We want to empower them to be the best possible version of themselves physically, mentally and socially. I am so proud of our students, staff and families because they continue to embrace our efforts as we seek ways to educate the whole child. It is truly an honor for our school to be recognized on the national level. However, having happier, healthier students and staff is the best possible reward. It is exciting seeing our kids moving before, during and after school. Participating in the different activities we offer is helping our students establish relationships, build self esteem and form a stronger sense of family. I believe we are making a lasting impact on our students and Meadow Lands will continue to educate healthy lifelong learners by ‘Leaping into Learning.’”
Summaries of each school’s areas of achievement and focus on health and wellness are listed below.
Highland Elementary School
Two years ago, student vending machines at Highland had sugary sports drinks. Now, Highland not only meets new Smart Snack Guidelines, they go above and beyond in creating a healthy school in other ways too. To promote breakfast participation and morning activity, students are allowed to take their “Grab-and-Go” breakfast to the walking trail to enjoy while on a morning walk. Also, assistant Principal Carrie Munsey says everyone is using GoNoodle in the classrooms – and it’s so much fun, the students are even using GoNoodle at home! Key to Highland’s success is an active and compassionate staff who not only act as positive role models, but have also been known to purchase bikes for students who could not afford them. PE Teacher Tim Steed even spends planning periods running laps in the gym with a second-grader who asked for help to lose weight.
Meadow Lands Elementary School
“Man, we sure are a healthy bunch of kids around here,” a MLES student was heard saying. How are they being healthy? For one thing, students have lots of opportunity to move. GoNoodle Plus is provided to all teachers, thanks to a grant provided by Owensboro Health. Last year, MLES also increased their recess time to the recommended 20 minutes daily. The Farm to School program provides fruits and vegetables from local farms at lunch and students who try new foods are given USDA stickers. MLES kids aren’t the only healthy ones! PE teacher Amy Bouchard says, “A unique bond has developed between staff as a result to participating in staff lead workout classes and weight loss challenges.” Amy added, “The Healthy Schools Program gave us a roadmap of steps to keep furthering our mission and Jacy Wooley has been a huge asset by providing resources, contacts, and motivation for continuous improvement in our wellness ventures!”
Daviess County Middle School
Sometimes it’s the smallest efforts that make the biggest difference. One of the most popular activities at DCMS is the weekly emails to staff that offer encouragement or information on a wellness topic. PE Teacher Alese Ferrell says, “The feedback I receive about the Wellness Wednesday emails are such an encouragement to me. Not only are these individuals making the choice and effort to get healthy, but they are also taking the knowledge home to their families. I love my job!” Staff wellness efforts don’t stop there. Alese also offered a grocery store tour to discuss healthy items and food preparations with staff. DCMS is also very active in creating teams for local 5K races and even hosted their own 3K/5K race for students, staff and community that was so successful they plan to make it an annual event! Students are also moving during the school day using resources such as GoNoodle in the classroom.