Increase Health and Wellness
As a school health advocate for nearly 20 years, I am a strong advocate for student health and wellness. The pandemic has thrown us into uncharted waters, and we are all learning how to navigate our new normal. The pandemic has brought an increase of loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression. We need to reimagine and re-think our health and wellness models to include online support groups and ensure all wellness services are accessible to all students and families. It will be necessary to engage with community-based organizations to expand our partnerships and identify funding sources for these added services and programs.
During the current pandemic, we are fortunate to have a small but mighty nursing team to provide their medical expertise. The nurses are integral to the planning of re-opening school as safely as possible.
Over the years, I have advocated for additions or changes in PUSD’s school health services:
- Advocated for increasing the credentialed school nursing staff and additional hours for site health clerks.
- Started the school Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) program at our school sites and athletic programs.
- Advocated for Child Nutrition Services to purchase and serve organic produce and salad bars.
- Advocated for and started the sun safety program and more shade around our school sites to lessen the risk of skin cancer.
- Collaborated on the first Food Allergy and Food From Home board policies.
- Lead the in-classroom Food Allergy Awareness program.
- Major contributor to the original Wellness policy.
- Participated on one of the original Go Green school site committees.
- And much more.
After a string of student suicides, I was very involved in looking into and starting the conversations about depression, drug addiction, and other risky behaviors. Those conversations and advocacy efforts have led to training for counselors, the addition of the anonymous tip line, increasing mental health services, and, more recently, social workers.
Several years ago, I introduced Stanford’s Challenge Success program to PUSD to start addressing student stress. It resulted in some interesting and telling data that began to open our eyes as to what was contributing to student stress. This conversation led to the revamping of the homework policy. Student stress is an area that needs constant focus as well as student academic integrity.
The topic of bullying is an on-going concern and continually needs to be raised. During my next term, this is a priority focus area. PUSD has embarked on a district-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports ( PBIS), a multi-tiered framework to assist schools in establishing a social culture and behavior supports needed to improve social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students. PBIS is a program of interest for me, and I will continue to monitor its effectiveness and outcomes.
I have led many of the school health conversations at the board table to create change and increase PUSD’s services. Most recently, I advocated for an executive team addition by creating the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services position. The Special Education department now is overseen by Student Services. The new role has proven to be effective and has provided a level of leadership that was missing.