“I love this quote and it has helped me re-ground many times when taking on something new: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” Corny maybe, but it has helped.”
District: Federal Way Public Schools
Award Amount: $5,000.00
Description:Our team consists of five Elementary Physical Education teachers from different schools throughout the Federal Way School District. We are going to tackle the challenge of systems thinking as we study the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) approach to wellness. WSCC was developed by the Centers for Disease Control in conjunction with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development to take action related to the development and education of the whole child. Together we will attend a national conference, meet together to do a book study, study best practices from around the country, assess the overall wellness in our individual schools and begin to affect systems change to enhance the overall education of our students. Our team is excited to start getting our students and staff up and moving throughout the school day, eating more nutritiously, and receiving the counseling and social services they need while engaging families and the community as partners!
Wellness Advocacy Team: Five Elementary Health and Physical Education teachers –
- NBCT Dana Henry – Lake Grove Elementary
- NBCT Jacina LaBoo – Olympic View Elementary
- NBCT Tom Wallat – Green Gables Elementary
- NBCT Leslie Burhenn – Camelot Elementary
- Caitlin Kelley – Brigadoon Elementary
Our district is very diverse. We have 22,511 students with 67.8% identifying as an ethnicity other than white, 59.2% students qualify for free and reduced cost meals, 16.5% of our students are bilingual – with over 112 different languages represented, and 13.5% of our students receive Special Education services. We have twenty-one elementary schools, two K-8th grade schools, seven middle schools, four high schools, and five specialized schools that offer alternate learning experiences.
What was the problem you’re trying to solve?
The teacher leadership challenge we continue to face is one of Systems Thinking – a perspective that helps us see and understand the big picture in new ways. In this case it involves a systems shift from an older model of wellness to a more comprehensive model of supporting the whole child.
Why is the work important to your context?
In 2004, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act. This act required by law that all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program or other child nutrition programs create local school wellness policies by 2006. The legislation places the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each LEA can be addressed. In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and added new provisions for local school wellness policies related to implementation, evaluation, and public reporting on progress of local school wellness policies.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began a collaboration with the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) to develop a guide for developing a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) in schools. Since over 95% of youth are enrolled in schools and since the school day, typically 8-9 hours long, traditionally provides an inactive setting away from home, adding physical activity during the school day can reduce the sedentary nature of classrooms and enhance academic performance. The goals of a CSPAP program are to have a strong Physical Education program; to increase physical activity time before school, during school, and after school for students; and to have staff, family, and community engagement.
In 2014, the CDC collaborated with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) to take action related to educating the whole child called the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Approach (WSCC). WSCC is designed to promote alignment, integration and collaboration between education and health and is intended to enhance health outcomes and academic success. The WSCC model has ten components: Health Education, Physical Education and Physical Activity, Nutrition Environment and Services, Health Services, Counseling and Psychological and Social Services, Physical Environment, Employee Wellness, Family Engagement, and Community Involvement. This model is more comprehensive than the CSPAP model and involves coordinating many more stakeholders and services to best support our students.
Our school and school district have a strong foundation in CSPAP programs as the result of intentional professional development and collaboration. Our systems thinking shift will be to take the next step in supporting the whole child by implementing, evaluating, and updating existing Wellness Policies at the school and district levels. For 2016, LEAs are encouraged to continue reviewing and assessing their local wellness policies and implementing the new requirements. We will be held accountable for local school wellness policy implementation, assessment, and public updates. Shifting our systems thinking to the WSCC model has the potential to improve health and academic achievement for our students and improve school climate.
Briefly outline the ‘scope and sequence’ of your work
Phase 1: Develop and collaborate with teachers as leaders (Winter – Spring 2016).
With the funding from the CSTP Leadership grant, five Elementary PE teachers from different schools across our district met regularly to study the WSCC model. We studied the book “Promoting Health and Academic Success: The Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child Approach” by David Birch and Donna Videto. We also examined exemplary wellness models from other districts around the state. Three of us were able to attend the SHAPE America national conference and bring back strategies and models to share from around the country.
Some of our goals included:
- Developing a strong leadership team willing to be role models/exemplars for a systems shift in wellness policy in our district
- Forming functioning wellness teams at our own schools
- Assessing the health of our schools
- Crafting plans to support our students and communities
- Creating plans for systems assessment and transparency
As a result of the work, what are the significant impacts you are able to evidence?
We have been actively working to develop knowledge and skills to positively impact student learning and school culture by influencing stakeholders beyond the classroom.
The bulk of our work will take place in the summer of 2016 and throughout the 2016-2017 school year when Wellness Advocacy Team members will enter Phase 2 of this Leadership Project.
Phase 2: Collaborate with system leaders and utilize teachers as assets for change and improvement in their contexts (2016 – 2017 school year).
The Wellness Advocacy Team members will form teams at their schools composed of a combination of fellow teachers, nurses, parents, students, administrators or coaches, school counselors, community liaisons, and other appropriate members.
- Teams will assess the overall wellness environment in their schools using the School Health Index (SHI) developed by the CDC or another tool developed for this purpose.
- Teams will draft school wellness guidelines which may include: a statement of purpose, principles and values, objectives, strategies, specific actions, desired outcomes, performance indicators, and management plans.
- With administrative support and approval, schools will seek to adopt and implement the guidelines, measure and evaluate success, and communicate the results.
- Wellness Advocacy Team members will continue to meet as a group during the 2016–2017 school year to share successes, strategies, and challenges.
What were your major learnings (successes and challenges)?
Shifting to WSCC as a model for our schools and students seems obvious to the five of us as Health and Physical Educators. We all believe the saying “Maslow before Bloom”. Our students need to have their basic needs met and need to feel connected to their schools if they are going to be successful academically. Each of the team members have stakeholders at the school and community level who are excited and eager to dive into this work next year to support our students and our communities. In particular, the partnerships we will build with community members and parents have the potential to be game changing.
The challenge will be getting not only administrative buy-in, but support and leadership. If this is going to truly be a systems shift, we will need stakeholders at the administrative level to understand the research supporting the links between heath and academic success and be open to exploring the WSCC Model developed by CDC and ASCD.
We have a new superintendent who has spent this past year working with stakeholders to develop a new strategic plan for the entire district. The plan will be rolled out at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year for all staff members around the district. This summer, there will be a Strategic Planning Summit to provide professional development surrounding this new strategic plan that will drive the work of school improvement planning. One of our challenges will be to connect the “pillars and goals” of this new plan to the health and wellness of our students. We need to help everyone understand that healthy students who have strong connections to school are more prepared to learn and are more likely to achieve academic success.
What resources did you need to use or to create to support the work?
Wellness and Academic Success Resources:
- “Promoting Health and Academic Success: The Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child Approach” by David Birch and Donna Videto.
- Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina
- SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey, MD
Resources on the CDC website:
- Podcast on physical activity, nutrition, and academic achievement http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=8634967
- “Health and Academic Achievement” http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/health_and_academics/index.htm
- School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
- School Health Index: A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide
- Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program: A Guide for Schools