Leveraging Every Student Succeeds Act $$ to Support the Whole Child

Tomorrow, Liz Thorne and I will be headed to our first ESEA Conference in Kansas City. The National ESEA Conference is an annual project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators and the largest conference focused on federal education programs for disadvantaged students. The Conference emphasizes the critical nature of doing what’s right and what’s needed today – to help every child succeed and achieve at high levels.

Our workshop proposal, Leveraging Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) Dollars to Support the Whole Child was accepted in a 90 minute slot on Wednesday from 11:30-1pm. Our workshop will bring participants through engaging activities including understanding ASCDs Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child framework, reviewing our analyses of each states’s ESSA plans through the lens of the whole child & school health & finally provide participant’s with success stories at the state and local level on how State Education Agencies and local districts have supported the whole child using ESSA funding. Some of these stories include:

  • Using Title IV dollars to purchase comprehensive health education curricula such as ETRs HealthSmart;

  • Using Title II dollars to send teachers to the SHAPE America National Convention for professional development for physical education, health education, recreation and dance; and

  • Using Title IV dollars to implement a pilot mental health initiative in 10 elementary schools.

We are looking forward to learning more from our peers in the field in how more districts and schools can support the whole child and leverage federal program funds to do it!

Let's Move Active School PAL Training of Trainers!

Loved spending the past 4 days at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton OR with a fabulous group of professionals! The Let's Move Active Schools initiative brought together trainers from all over the US for two objectives:
1. Re-connect seasoned trainers and provide updates on the Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader (PAL) training
2. On-board a new group of national trainers for the PAL training

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No more cupcakes for birthday parties?

What do you mean I can't task a student do laps around the track when he/she misbehaves?
I can't hold my annual cookie dough fundraiser for our football and band uniforms?
What do you mean I can't take away recess when a student hasn't completed their work?

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Kentucky Association for Health, PE Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD)

For years, I've attended the Oregon chapter of this same organization. It's the professional organization for educators and faculty in school health education, physical education, recreation and dance. It was my first year attending the KAHPERD conference and I was impressed. Sunday kicked off with a free pre-training (about 60 in attendance!) on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program. It is a free program developed to ensure what happens before, during and after the fitness assessment is beneficial for students and teachers and leads to youth who are active for life. 

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"Oh, You're One of Those Healthy People…"

I find myself meeting new people fairly regularly here in Kentucky and hearing a comment like the title of this blog. What's fascinating to me is that people actually categorize healthy people in a way that could never include them. As if they're stating, Oh, you're black." "Oh, you're a banker." "Oh, you're divorced." Things they may never actually be.

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KY Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader Training

Yesterday was Kentucky's first ever Let's Move Active Schools (LMAS) Physical Activity Leader (PAL) Training. Jamie Sparks, Coordinated School Health Director at the Kentucky Department of Education and I were the trainers. We had 57 PE teachers (K-12 represented) from all over the region excited to join in on the skill-building workshop, and, of course the fun!

Jamie Sparks and I were the trainers for the first #KYPAL training in Kentucky!


Let's Move Active Schools PAL training equips educators and other school health advocates to implement Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP). I don't love that we call it Programs, because in reality, CSPAP is really about implementing programs, policies and practices that create a culture of health in your school. The mantra is "60 a Day!" with the goal being students are physically active 60 minutes per day. That might sound like a lot, but it is really not.. Those 60 minutes of physical activity could include: time being physically active in physical education class, before and after school physical activity (laps programs, after school inter-murals, walk and bike to school efforts) and during school physical activity opportunities (within classroom environments, or breaks and recess). Plenty of opportunities to get students moving!

We know that there is research to demonstrate that incorporating physical activity (PA) in the classroom doesn't affect academic performance in any negative way. And, as Jamie Sparks alluded to in the training, we know that our brain on PA is like Miracle Grow on plants. In the classroom, it boosts attention & concentration. 

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     Physical  activity improves learning on three levels: “first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.”     John Ratey , SPARK


Physical  activity improves learning on three levels: “first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.”

John Ratey , SPARK


The training was full of movement, music, laughter and activities that engaged our participants. The participants participated in a carousel activity in which they were able to work in groups of 10 to brainstorm what they were currently doing around the areas of physical education, before and after school PA programs, PA during school, family and community engagement, and staff involvement at the elementary and/or secondary level. They also had a chance to discuss what could be done at their schools to strengthen these 5 areas of CSPAP.  We provided opportunities for them to learn the 7 Step Process for implementing CSPAP in their school (create a School Wellness Council, complete a needs assessment, create vision, goals and objectives, action plan, define outcomes, develop a plan of action, implement and measure success).

The teachers were engaged and enthusiastic for a summer professional development day! It was great to meet new teachers passionate about this work in my home state. Loved having the opportunity- thank you to all the partners that made it happen!

Carousel Activity

Carousel Activity

Bicycling. To the Kentucky Derby!

I'm a master planner. I love organizing and planning for fun, efficiency, safety and thrill. So when Cathey Sell, a college friend of my mothers sent me two Churchill Down shareholder passes for the 2014 season, I knew I'd be in attendance May 3, 2014.

You may have noticed a lapse in daily blog posts recently. I'd love to admit I took time off throughout Derby Festival to enjoy each and every day's offerings in and about town. However, it has been a few weeks of out-of-balance work days. I managed fairly well and participated in more than I thought I would. Note to self: take on less work from March Madness through Derby. Especially if my team, UCONN is playing against a Kentucky team!

Leaving the Henry Clay to bicycle to Churchill Downs.

Leaving the Henry Clay to bicycle to Churchill Downs.

This week represents my 6th month living in Louisville after making a daring move to relocate my entire life and business here from Portland Oregon. Most people ask me why the heck I choose Kentucky. I have criteria that I knew I wanted in a new city. Louisville won. After officially being here 6 months, I can safely say... I'm 100% sure I made the right decision. 

It's been a month of analyzing how to go about experiencing this past weekend's event. Every local has their own opinion of how to enjoy the fastest 2 minutes in sports. Being completely ignorant to this event, I asked questions like, "Can I bring in PBJ sandwiches?" "Where does my pass allow me to roam?" "Is everyone in a hat?" "How many people attend?" "Why is everyone talking about Oaks Day instead?" It was all a bit overwhelming, but I was determined to make the entire day of the event, as I said above: fun, efficient, safe and thrilling. 

Nobody on the street! Why don't more people do this?

Nobody on the street! Why don't more people do this?

My good friend Dave came in from LA and our Derby day was perfect. The weather cooperated and we hopped on our bicycles around noon. I live on 3rd St downtown and Chruchill is right down the street 3.3 miles. When I mentioned my bicycling idea, most locals did not support the concept. But, I have to tell you- it was the best idea ever. A bike lane follows most of 3rd St to the University area. Most people driving to Churchill are coming from the highway. Very few cars were on 3rd Street from downtown. Those that were on our route stopped next to us at a light, rolled down their windows and gave us a thumbs up or told us we were awesome. It was fun. UofL baseball stadium had some bicycle rack space available and in full sight of many people and police officers, so I felt safe locking my two bikes up there. 

Hopping on bikes to ride home. 

Hopping on bikes to ride home. 

After betting on California Chrome and winning about $115, biking home was incredibly easy. We walked out, headed to our bikes, unlocked them and were on our way. We were home within 15 minutes. I had an amazing day. And, don't tell anyone, but I did happen to sneak in PBJ sandwiches, carrots and celery. Brought sunblock and drank plenty of… water. And a couple mint juleps. Nothing excessive. I was, indeed, bicycling home! Fun, efficient, safe and thrilling = CHECK.

My first Kentucky Derby outfit for the evening. Fascinator and all!

My first Kentucky Derby outfit for the evening. Fascinator and all!

Let's Move Active Schools Physical Activity Leader Training

Welcoming the participants for the day.

Welcoming the participants for the day.

Yesterday, LMAS held it's first-ever LMAS PAL training at a national conference. Judy LoBianco and I facilitated the full-day event and had the opportunity to work with 40 fabulous new PALs from around the country and even the world! 

The goal of the training is to bring participants through a process in which they gain knowledge and skills to go home and implement a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program. It's actually not a program, but a philosophy or way of incorporating a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity throughout a school day. The core of this work is quality physical education programs, taught by a certified physical education teacher who receives on-going professional development (ideal!). But, reality is that most students do not get 60 minutes of physical education a day. So, how do we incorporate physical activity throughout the day? Before and after-school programs, like walk and bike to school, open gym opportunities. We can promote physical activity during recess including incentives for walking or running laps for students. We can incorporate physical activity within the classroom- any classroom, any subject. For example, yesterday I encouraged participants to get up and make shapes and obtuse and acute angles with their bodies. Why not incorporate math and movement? With all those opportunities to include physical activity throughout the day, it should be no problem for every school in America to provide 60 minutes of physical activity (PA) throughout the day for their students. 

Judy LoBianco role modeling "Making the Case" pitch to "principal" Jamie Sparks.

Judy LoBianco role modeling "Making the Case" pitch to "principal" Jamie Sparks.

So, why do it? Well, obviously the obesity epidemic is on everyone's mind. But, there are a lot more benefits to implementing PA programs. Walking and biking to school means less vehicles on school grounds, which may mean less accidents and can result in better air quality that decreases asthma triggers and increases attendance (asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism related to chronic disease in many state). Walking and biking is also better for the environment and creates safer communities when youth are out and about. That is one example and realizing not every school is walk and bike accessible, there are 100s of other ways to incorporate PA throughout the day. The research on what PA does for the brain is there. It jumpstarts it again! It may lead to higher test scores and academic achievement. PA leads to increased motivation, alertness and attention. 

Jump on board! Learn about how you can get in involved in increasing PA for your students (and, I'd include staff in that as well!) by going here!

Gearing Up for School Health- Webinar!

I'm facilitating a webinar hosted by SPARK on Wednesday, March 19 at 3pm PST/6pm EST! More information on how to register to come, but see description below. Feel free to share with others.

“Riding the Path to a Comprehensive School Health Program”

You can’t ride a bicycle unless all the parts are working. In addition, the parts need to work cohesively for a smooth ride to your destination.  A successful comprehensive school health program (CSHP) must have multiple components working together for one common goal…. building healthier schools. Join us at the next SPARK webinar to learn about best practices and successful strategies for building your program, as well as develop action steps to support activities to make it happen. Students must be healthy in order to be educated, and they must be educated in order to stay healthy. Implementing a comprehensive school health program does not need to always be an uphill climb. Lead your school down the path by guiding the implementation of programs, policies, and activities to improve the health of children. Our guest speaker, Jessica Lawrence of Cairn Guidance will share her lessons learned and experiences in building a CSHP. Register now to start the journey towards a healthy school environment!

Attendees will:

  • Be presented with the relationship of health issues to education accountability measures (test scores, graduation rates, attendance);
  • Understand the CSHP model and how CSPAP fits into the model, and hear examples;
  • Be presented with information on best practices when building sustainable school health programs;
  • Be encouraged to set one next step goal around what you learned on the webinar.