SHI in Action: How Brooklyn Center Community Schools Use the SHI and Why You Should Too
AFHK’s newly expanded School Health Index addresses health topic areas consistent with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model and puts a greater emphasis on Whole Child heath by adding in Social and Emotional Climate questions, as well as increasing the focus of how families play a key role in improving childhood health behaviors and development.
But don’t just take it from us! Hear how Brooklyn Center Community Schools in Minnesota have used the SHI and learn why you should, too.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what keeps you energized about school health and wellness.
My name is Michelle Auld, and I am the District Wellness Coordinator for Brooklyn Center Community Schools. I am passionate about well-being for students and staff because it is central to our capacity to do and be our best. When staff and students have access to wellness and health resources, programs, and systems, they are better able to relate to one another and there is an increased capacity to learn.
Couldn’t agree more! Access to health and wellness resources, programs, and systems contribute to the creation of safe and supportive learning environments. When students (and adults) have access to the resources and support they need to thrive, we expand capacity for stronger relationships, connectedness, and learning.
Q: How did you learn about the School Health Index?
I’ve been using it for so many years, I’m not sure if I remember exactly. I believe I first became aware of it when my children were in elementary school, and I was supporting their school’s Wellness Committee.
Wellness Committees come in many shapes and sizes… and they might even go by a different name (e.g. School Health Advisory Committee, School Health Team, etc.). They serve as the champions for school health and wellness, and whether you’re a parent, teacher, administrator, caregiver, etc., everyone has a role to play.
Q: Pivoting back to your current role, had your school used the School Health Index before?
Our district has used the SHI for many years, for many grants and projects. I have been involved with completing the SHI annually for the past five years.
A point worth noting: Taking the School Health Index annually allows you to measure your progress over time and build on strengths to maximize efforts areas of opportunity.
Q: How do you engage others in the process of completing the School Health Index?
We are fortunate to have a robust and committed Wellness Committee, and when we need to update the indexes, I request a subcommittee and we usually have 3 – 5 members participate.
Print out the questions ahead of time and use a meeting to work through the sections together or delegate various questions to different members of the team based on their role. All teams work differently – so find ways to collaborate that work the best for you.
Q: How did your school use the results (e.g. action plan, leverage strengths, reach goals, etc.)?
Each year we use the results to plan our annual school-site goals, as well as create the requests for the most-needed projects for grant applications.
Michelle’s use of the School Health Index helps her school sites stay accountable to their annual goals while keeping the most urgent needs at top priority. Prioritizing projects and initiatives is crucial when it comes to advocating for funding, justifying the need for change, and garnering support.
Q: What tips would you share for others interested in completing the School Health Index?
1) It’s not hard when there are a few people working together. 2) Go with your first response. 3) A lower score is not “bad.” It’s only a cue that something needs attention.
Absolutely! This work is ever-evolving and scores may fluctuate year over year. Low scores only show opportunities for improvement. Leverage your strengths to further build in those areas, and regardless of where your school is starting from, remember to celebrate successes along the way.
Q: Anything else related to your experience completing the SHI or successes from your school you could share?
We’ve learned a lot about keeping our focus on student wellness and that when people/staff get distracted that we lose ground. It’s helpful to know what to promote from the Wellness Policy.
Great point to end on: Staying grounded is key to maintaining the momentum. It’s easy to get distracted or feel overwhelmed when it comes to Whole Child health. Using assessments like the School Health Index create a map to anchor onto and stay focused.
Learn more about AFHK’s School Health Index and assess your school or district’s health today! Complete the School Health Index for your school or schools by November 30th for a chance to win an Active Recess Kit and a $25 gift card. Tune into social media November 9th – 13th to hear from community members who have used the SHI to create spaces where children can thrive!