HONORING HEALTHY SCHOOLS

Who knew that Tuesday, April 4, is National Healthy Schools Day?   I heard it on CBS Sunday morning news on April 2 and rather soon thereafter sat down to offer up these thoughts.   Since I spent the majority of my career working with schools, especially quite a few of the 130,000 K-12 schools in the United States, I’ve learned a few things that contribute to healthy schools. Here’s the link that provides information about the day and its meaning:

http://www.nationalhealthyschoolsday.org/

While this recognition is focused mostly on the physical environment, certainly a critical factor in teaching and learning, I want to take the discussion beyond the physical to the emotional and cultural health factors at work. Each dimension makes a significant contribution to the environment for effective teaching and learning.

Some questions that come to mind immediately are:

  1. What does “healthy” mean?
  2. Is there someone at your school responsible for its health?
  3. Is the school a place where children feel safe and secure?
  4. Do they feel free to express themselves without fear of undue criticism?
  5. Does the school post its values and beliefs where everyone can see so that they are part of the school’s conscience?
  6. Is the school inclusive of different ethnic, religious, racial and socio-economic groups?
  7. Is there an atmosphere of respect, honesty, trust and openness?
  8. Are the adults great role models for the kids?
  9. Does the school reflect positive energy and activities?
  10. Is the school a place where kids and adults want to be and enjoy spending most of their waking hours?

You can think of more questions that might address your particular school’s health factors. A round table discussion with both faculty and students that talks openly about your school’s health could be a productive exercise. And finally, these two questions: What do we need to keep doing and emphasize that contributes to our healthy school?   What do we need to change to make it even healthier?

Please share your thoughts and opinions