Changes at the Office of Student Health and Wellness

January 22, 2015

The Office of Student Health and Wellness recently underwent a staff and structural change, adding more managerial positions and joining the Operations department.

Consistent with the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) educational mission, CPS has been working hard over the past few years to prioritize student health and wellness. As a part of this commitment, in February 2012 CPS hired Dr. Stephanie Whyte, the district’s first ever chief health officer. Dr. Whyte has a dual reporting role into the district and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), which assists in establishing healthy environments where students can learn and succeed. Since then, the district has expanded on much of its work through the establishment of the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW), which has been leading the charge for healthier schools in Chicago.

Recently, we have said goodbye to a few great colleagues who have moved on to pursue other opportunities. But we’re excited to welcome new allies in 2015. Most recently, Dr. Julie Morita, who was serving as the chief medical officer for CDPH, has stepped into the role of the city’s public health commissioner.

The Office of Student Health and Wellness has made some changes to the staff structure, creating four manager positions: manager of student wellness; manager of student health; manager of vision and hearing programs; and manager of physical education and health education. Tarrah DeClemente is the new manager of student wellness. For two years, Tarrah served as the district’s nutrition education coordinator and registered dietitian nutritionist before taking on the new role. Sujata Shah will serve as the manager of student health, and Kenneth Papineau will be the manager of vision and screening. The manager of PE and health education position is yet to be filled.

But the office also moved from being under the Teaching and Learning umbrella to the Operations umbrella. What seems like a small change actually has big implications for the way the district views student health and wellness. The Operations department houses everything that “has to happen” to run the schools; from making sure the buses run on time, the lights are turned on and school meals are available. DeClemente says, “Being housed in Operations sets the precedent that a student’s health and wellness is fundamental to being prepared for the school day.”

The office is looking to continue to expand upon the great work they have started with the help of many partners. “We want to continue to build on the progress we have made while also looking toward the horizon for new projects that can improve the wellness of our students,” she says.