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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American School Health Association Conference

I took full advantage of being back in Portland for the third time in 3 months, this time at the American School Health Association Conference. Being that I just moved from there to Kentucky less than a year ago, there were plenty of people to connect with, but I focused on my own professional development and networking while in downtown Portland.

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Supporting Sustainability

This past Saturday, I helped coordinate, facilitate and keynote an event with Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS), the 19th largest school district in the country. We were fortunate to have three essential organizations represented.

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Sugarloaf Maine; Schoolsite Health Promotion Conference

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I'm here! It's gorgeous. 4 months ago when Susan Berry at the Maine Department of Education contacted me about working with them again at the end of June at Sugarloaf Resort, how could I say no? I arrived at 2pm today, took a hike part way up a ski mountain I haven't been to since high school. No joke, this place is in the middle of Maine. It took about 4.5 hours to drive here from Boston this morning. The weather is perfect and it's nice to be here a little early. 

Since I'm here for the entire 3-day conference, Susan and I worked together to determine a few opportunities for me to participate in the conference. This conference has been held for 29 years (!) and focuses on school employee wellness. So, tomorrow is the first day and I'll be facilitating the opening energizer to get school teams acquainted and another activity to get the entire group of participants engaged in the topics of the week, including personal wellness, school site wellness and partnership development. Wednesday I will be the opening keynote for the day and Thursday I'll be facilitating a workshop called, "Honing your Stairway Speech" which allows participants opportunities to practice advocacy skills around school health issues. I hope to get some networking time in while kayaking, hiking and enjoying the amazing views from beautiful Maine! 

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RMC Health Board of Directors Meeting

Years ago, in 2004, I joined the Society of State Leaders of Health and PE. I was a State Director for Health Education at the Oregon Department of Education. At the time, Sharon Murray was the Executive Director and it was an introduction into my work connections and relationship building nationally. Years later, Sharon would accept the position of the President of RMC Health, a non-profit organization working to strengthen the effectiveness of those working to improve the health and well-being of children and youth. I knew of RMC Health, when they were the primary professional development (PD) organization of all our states funded to do Coordinated School Health work. So, between my membership with Society and RMC Health providing PD support to Oregon, I've known both Sharon and the work of RMC Health for about ten years. 

A year ago, Sharon approached me about being on the Board of Directors and after giving it some thought (mostly determining my capacity), I decided to commit to being on the RMC Board because:

  • I believe in their mission and vision;
  • It is a great opportunity to continue to build partnerships and relationships;
  • I am passionate about making schools healthier places and paid work isn’t the only way to do it;
  • Growing an organization, with intention, is exciting work;
  • I want to learn and grow professionally and this opportunity offers that.

You can ready more on why I joined the Board in this blog post dated November 20, 2013 here

We have Board meetings every other month via video conference, however, once a year we come to Colorado and meet in person. Today was our annual in-person meeting at the Pepsi Center. It was a great opportunity for me to meet the rest of the Board in person and engage with RMC Health's Leadership Team. And, the entire staff joined us for some networking at the end of the day.

RMC Health Board of Directors and Leadership Team

RMC Health Board of Directors and Leadership Team

I truly believe that RMC Health provides state of the art PD for educators in the field. Our vision is healthy children and youth and the work leads us there! I am honored to be a part of an organization moving the needle on kids health. The leadership and staff at RMC Health are extraordinary and I feel incredibly valued and appreciated being part of this great team!

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

Who REALLY Loves Webinars?

Who REALLY loves webinars? I don't. But, living in a virtual world and working nationally, I have to stay current. And, one inexpensive, easy way to gain more knowledge, connect with new people and stay current is to participate in webinars. SPARK asked me to do a webinar  and I was flattered. The topic was comprehensive school health programs. Sure! I knew that topic. I could do it in my sleep. The bigger challenge? Keeping people interested and engaged throughout the 45-55 minutes. So, I dug deep into my adult learning knowledge and trainer background. Since facilitating the webinar, 7 people have followed up with me including being asked to keynote in another state, and other potential school health consulting work. I even received an email that said, "Thanx for one of the best webinars I have viewed in a while.  Have a great weekend!:-)". It was the first webinar I've ever facilitated and the feedback has been really positive. So, I might as well share some tips, right?

What did I do to engage participants?

1. Before starting, I had a slide with fun info about me, the facilitator. And a funny photo.
2. I used a metaphor
3. Told a story throughout. Storytelling is an effective way to engage the brain.
4. Asked questions (twice) and asked for people to respond. Referred to submissions later on in the webinar. At end, we opened it up to questions.
5. Facilitated a physical activity, even though I couldn't see people participating, I asked them to take a photo with their camera and post it to Twitter using #GearUp4CSH. Offered a prize to two participants who submitted photos!

If you missed the webinar, feel free to listen to it here!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

For those of you in the right place at the right time, you may be able to attend one of these speaking engagements I'm speaking at or facilitating! Listed in order of occurrence.

1. Leadership Louisville's Best of Leadership Summit, March 17-18
I'm presenting a Ted-style talk during the 3-4:30 breakout session entitled, "Storytellers: A Next Generation Perspective". "Do Something Extraordinary" will focus on the six life lessons I learned on my 4,197 mile solo bicycle journey across the US this past summer and how those lessons related to being a leader in your professional field. Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer will be speaking on his “Vision for Louisville” and CEO of Chrysalis Ventures, David Jones Jr will be speaking about “Innovating to Improve Education and Healthcare”. The three breakout topics for each time throughout the day are: Leadership, Community and Driving Change. Don't miss it. Register for the upcoming event here!

2. SPARK sponsored Webinar, March 19, 3pm PST/6pm EST
I'm facilitating an hour long webinar for SPARK called, Gearing Up for School Health: Riding the Path to a Comprehensive School Health Program. Anyone can register and be a part of this workshop I'm leading in a couple of weeks! To register and find out more (objectives and description) go here

3. National AAHPERD/SHAPE Conference in St Louis, MO, April 1
I will be co-facilitating a Let's Move Active Schools, Physical Activity Leader (PAL) training with Judy LoBianco, former PE Administrator of the Year Awardee. By participating in this training, you will become a PAL and have the knowledge and skills to go back to your school or district and implement school-wide change in the areas of PE, physical activity during the school day, before and after school, staff involvement and family and community engagement. To register for this all day pre-conference session, go here

4. School-site Health Promotion Conference, Sugarloaf Maine, week of June 23
As the keynote speaker during this week's staff wellness conference in Maine, I will be addressing a variety of topics through the lens of my bicycle journey across the US with a focus around employee wellness. More and more schools around the country are addressing the health and well-being of their staff and workplace environments. This not only models good health for students but increases staff attendance and productivity. My 75 minute presentation will be a call to action for the audience, mostly attending in district-level teams of 5-10 people. 

There are some other pending events I will be speaking at or facilitating that will be open to the public… potentially in Alaska, Kentucky, Oregon and Maryland. Stay tuned!

 

 

Franklin County Public Schools

A good friend and colleague of mine, Audra, is a middle school health and PE teacher in Frankfort, Kentucky. Recently, Audra was visiting me in Louisville for a late Sunday lunch and we got on the topic of health education and lack of professional development (PD) opportunities for her district. It's not that her administration doesn't support health and PE. It's that there aren't dollars to provide strong PD in both areas. And, with more PD days cut over the years, not much time. And, when that happens… you have educators not implementing best practices, but rather doing what they've 'always done'. And, that isn't what is best for education and learning. A lot has changed in health education even in the past ten years. 

Elkhorn Middle School, Audra's school is an Alliance for a Healthier Generation school. And Audra is the health education champion in her district. Advocating for the subjects of health and PE and working on coordinated school health, a broader school health approach that focuses not only on health and PE curriculum, but policy, staff health promotion, food service, school counseling, environment and more! When Audra mentioned that she had a meeting with her Superintendent, Chrissy Jones that upcoming Thursday morning, I was impressed. I know the district isn't tiny and was thrilled to hear that Chrissy is supportive of school health and meets with Audra regularly When I heard that, my mind kicked into gear.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of research on what makes a school health program sustainable. I've been reading research articles, interviewing evaluators and implementors at the school, district, state and national level. You know what keeps coming up in the research? A superintendent that believes there is a link between health and learning and supports building comprehensive school health environments within a district. There are other factors that support sustainability… having district and school-wide wellness councils, strengthening policies, addressing staff health, building partnerships, etc. But, it keeps coming back to that leadership support. And, the educational leader doesn't have to be intensely involved. But, they do have to support the work. They may push back and have to make strategic decisions based on timing and capacity, but overall, they are a believer that healthy kids learn better. 

So, yes, I thought about all of this as Audra was sitting there talking. I just moved to Kentucky. Work is picking up. Can I donate two days to provide strong PD to all their health teachers? Why not? Why not offer? So, I did. And within a few days, I heard directly from Chrissy. And now, we have a 2-day Using Health Education Standards and Assessment in the Classroom training being offered in July! My expectation is that all the secondary teachers teaching health education (whether they are a health specialist, or science teacher teaching health) are expected to attend the full two days. And, one teacher representative from each of the elementary schools. Systems change takes time. I hope to build their skills in the health education content standards, give them opportunities to score student work using rubrics, develop strong, innovative, fun performance assessments and write a health education unit, maybe even integrated with another subject area. They will leave with so much knowledge and skill gain. I hope to model over 25 teaching strategies and over 50% of what I model and what they learn is applicable in any subject area in school. 

I can't offer tons of free PD training to everyone all the time. However, in a district that has a leader that supports the belief that when students are healthy they will achieve at higher rates, and contacts me directly… I'm there! Kudos to Audra for her continued advocacy and support of health education and coordinated school health. And thanks to Chrissy for her leadership. I'm thrilled for the opportunity!