When I reminisce of my fondest work-related memories, the Oregon Healthy Kids Learn Better (HKLB) Cadre is at the top of that list. This group of 25 amazingly passionate educators from all over Oregon brings to mind memories and images such as cosmic soccer on the beach at Camp Westwind, the infamous green and white GAP sweater from the mid-1990's that typically shows up at annual retreats, crazy team-building activities including one that involved panty hose, tape and socks and relationships that have transformed into strong bonds. I remember complimenting Gigi’s necklace and within seconds her placing it over my head and telling me to have it… teach/inspire.
Most importantly I remember the deep, rich conversations around authentic assessment, teacher effectiveness, fidelity of curricula programs and cultural competency. I remember a group of educators passionate about their work and providing support and energy to each other throughout the years. Our success was that we built and sustained a cadre of educators for almost twenty years that offered professional development to thousands of teachers, administrators, and pre-service students. I hold this professional group I now call friends close to my heart, even though I now live 2,000 miles away.
I was thrilled when the Tobacco-Free Schools/Kentucky Department for Public Health and Kentucky Department of Education asked me to facilitate an inaugural KY SHAPE Cadre Retreat. As someone who advocated for sustained funding to support the HKLB Cadre in Oregon for years, learning that my new state of KY was interested in bringing together a cadre made me incredibly excited. A school health cadre can play a enormous role in the sustainability of school health work, professionalism among health and physical education and increase the capacity to do more advocacy around the state.
Sixteen elementary and secondary teachers representing eight regions in the Commonwealth as well as eight Action for Health Kids regional leads were brought together this week at Lake Cumberland State Park. Both funders were present, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Tobacco Free Schools/Kentucky Department for Public Health, as well as, partners who attended to show support including The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Humana Vitality/SWARM, Action for Healthy Kids, Southeast United Dairy Industry Association/Fuel Up to Play and Todd Davis who shared information on teacher effectiveness work happening at KDE.
Our training metaphor was toolkit; Building a Toolkit to make School Health the Norm. Supporting activities included each region/team building a structure out of recyclable materials that represented their work supporting school health policies, programs and practices. The activity promoted team- building, creativity, vision and innovative approaches to thinking about our work collaboratively. I lead activities around school health implementation and effective practices, shared resources and lead Jay McTighe’s Clapping Hands activity that demonstrates the importance of authentic evaluation, rubrics and effective student and teacher assessment. Participants heard presentations from the partners present.
The participants had the opportunity to network and build professional connections and relationships, one of the most important outcomes of a retreat. They participated in a 30 minute walk lead by Jala Miller from Humana Vitality and we modeled what we preach by facilitating movement/physical activity energizers at least every 30 minutes during the entire length of the day and a half event.
I hope to stay in touch with this amazing group of educators in one way or another. I envision this KY SHAPE cadre as tight-knit as the HKLB Cadre in Oregon. A group in which members encourage, energize, share, support, care for and embrace collaboration with each other. A place they can add to their toolkit to expand their work in their regions and make Kentucky a healthier place for all.