Heroes for Healthy Schools Spotlight On: Principal Nicole Feinberg

April 27, 2011

Healthy Schools Campaign is pleased to announce Heroes for Healthy Schools: Coming together for
student wellness and achievement, a series celebrating Minority Health Month and focusing attention on programs and policies in Chicago that support student wellness and achievement. This exciting series is presented as a partnership of Healthy Schools Campaign, Chicago Public Schools Nutrition Support Services and the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Student-passages200x264
Student at Passages School

Today's spotlight is on Nicole Feinberg, principal of Passages Charter School, a public school that focuses on meeting the needs of refugee and immigrant students as well as students from Chicago. Nicole and her colleagues focus on making wellness a priority for students at Passages, with recess every day and a number of health-promoting initiatives. Passages teachers took part in Fit to Learn and now the whole school is getting involved in Go for the Gold. Thanks to Nicole for sharing her perspective!

As a principal, Feinberg has faced some challenges in bringing health and wellness to each of her students.

“One of the biggest challenges is changing the mindset of people that healthy food has to be expensive. There are lots of inexpensive healthy foods. The challenge becomes sharing information on how to cook and use these foods, and secondly, finding a way to introduce new foods to students in a manner that they will like them,” said Feinberg.

As principal at a school serving many immigrant and refugee students, Feinberg sees the impact of health disparities but is still learning about all the issues involved.

“I think as a principal I am still in the process of learning the various issues that face minority students in terms of health. However, as I become better educated, I want to share what I've learned with our school community so that they can benefit from the knowledge,” said Feinberg.

Making wellness a priority is a team effort.

“I think one of the most valuable lessons I've learned as a principal is that you can accomplish anything if you collaborate with those around you and have a genuine passion for the cause,” said Feinberg.

Every Hero for Healthy Schools needs a personal health hero to look up to. Feinberg shares hers.

“My personal health heroes are my parents. They were first generation children of Greek parents who struggled with weight issues during their adolescence and young adulthood. Determined for my brother and I not to share the same fate, they made a conscious effort to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle from a young age and it worked!” said Feinberg. “Now as a parent I understand the value of their efforts and want to mirror their lessons with my own children.”

Plus! Read more about Passages' efforts to make health and wellness part of the school culture here