5 Ways to Build a Successful School Health Team
Building a school health team that engages by meeting regularly can be challenging. Demanding schedules and stretched capacity can prevent well-meaning administrators, teachers, school staff, and community partners that would otherwise form part of the school health team from participating.
We’ve enlisted Roxanne Schallberger, a 6th grade teacher from James Madison Elementary School in Madera Unified School District in California, to share how she created a SHT that is successfully implementing and promoting initiatives to make Madison a healthier school. The SHT has been key to the launch of her 2020-2021 Action for Healthy Kids grant project. She’s sharing her top 5 ways to not only create a SHT but how to keep the team engaged.
- Make sure your school health team includes your school administrator and PE teacher. These are key to the SHT. As a teacher and a mother, Ms. Schallberger understands well that kids learn differently. When the school wanted to engage kinesthetic learners, they started a Running Club which was facilitated by the school principal and the PE teacher. The first meeting Ms. Shallberger had with the AFHK CA State Coordinator, she invited the SHT to join. This set the tone for the rest of the grant project to be collaborative, with open communication and full support of the SHT. The SHT learned about the grant project and was fully committed to support the project.
- Prepare for meetings. Ms. Schallberger comes prepared for every meeting with an agenda and goals, ready to take initiative to guide the meeting to be fully productive. The result? No one feels like they’re wasting time coming to SHT meetings. Every meeting, the team knows where the grant project is and what steps are needed.
Seek out community partners that share common goals. One of Ms. Schallberger’s greatest partners is Elizabeth Lopez from CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension Madera County program. They support the school with curriculum, Smarter Lunchroom Movement implementation, physical activity and resources. When appropriate, Ms. Schallberger invites partners to visit the campus. More importantly, she shares what she learns by conducting trainings for teachers.
- Don’t be afraid to speak from experience. Some might not be as eager to try new things or may not fully understand how to integrate healthy choices into the classroom. Reassuring your colleagues that you’re their partner can go a long way and give them the confidence to try something new. This has encouraged teachers to incorporate videos created with students leading exercises for the whole school.
- Give ownership back to the community. What the SHT accomplishes is for the benefit of the school. They give ownership of achievements right back to the teachers, students, and school community. When Ms. Shallberger and her student fitness group create videos, the entire school has access to them. Teachers are free to incorporate them in their daily schedule. When the SHT completed the school garden a few years ago, they were told it would be a matter of days before it was vandalized. The solution? Because the community was made to feel ownership of the garden, the garden is still a prized gem of the school.
The James Madison Elementary School grant was made possible with funding from Kellogg Company Fund.