School Spotlight: Skinner North Elementary

October 18, 2010

“We want our kids to be healthy:” Skinner North Goes for the Gold!

HSC is pleased to be part of  the Go for the Gold campaign, a partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and HSC with the USDA Midwest and the Illinois State Board of Education to support Chicago schools in meeting the high standards for food, fitness and nutrition education set by the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. The HealthierUS School Challenge is the program that First Lady Michelle Obama is urging schools to take on as part of her Let's Move initiative. Today we are pleased to highlight Skinner North School for their exciting work to meet this challenge!

SkinnerNorth
Skinner North students participate in school's Walk-a-Thon, a healthy fundraiser.

Skinner North, a CPS elementary school, is getting ready to take on First Lady Michelle Obama’s challenge to make schools healthier places.

“We are very excited and are changing our schedule to 'go for the gold' by adding more recess and evaluating our programs. We even changed our physical education teacher from half-time to full-time to allow for 90 minutes of structured activities a week,” said principal Ethan Netterstrom.

Where did this school find the motivation to meet high standards for food, fitness and nutrition education?

“We want our kids to be healthy,” Netterstrom said. He explained that as educators, he and his staff realize that children’s needs are not only academic but also emotional, social, and physical. Therefore all areas need to related to their overall well-being. “I think the Go for the Gold Campaign helps us focus beyond just academics,” he said. “If kids only learn to be academically fit it is not enough. They have to be thoughtful members of society and have active lifestyles.”

Skinner North parents have stepped forward to champion the Go for the Gold campaign as well. For parent and Wellness Committee Chairperson Hemlata Kumar, it was about making sure that what kids learn at home is reinforced at school and vice versa.

“I want the children to learn about good nutrition at our school so they can understand how to make good choices and learn better. This is about creating long lasting habits that will ensure they will live healthy lives at school as well as at home,” she said. Since the beginning of this school year, parents have quickly become involved in the effort and have created 12 committees, one which focuses on wellness issues ranging from food allergies to healthy fundraisers.

Principal Netterstrom explained that teachers and school staff are also dedicated to incorporating healthy practices.

Since the school opened in 2009, school staff has felt strongly about rewarding kids with things other than sweets or pizza. Instead, teachers will celebrate children’s birthdays at morning meeting circles and in the classrooms by requesting children to share compliments about the birthday child. Children are able to bring school supplies for goodies for their classmates. The school uses healthy fundraising practices, a key component of the HealthierUS School Challenge, and has successfully met their financial goals: last year, for example, the school raised over $12,000 with a Jitter Bug Dance and Auction and a Walk-a-Thon.

Kudos to Skinner North for taking such huge strides to meet the HealthierUS School Challenge! Stay posted for updates on other schools making exciting healthy changes.

“We are very excited and are changing our schedule to 'go for the gold' by adding more recess and evaluating our programs. We even changed our physical education teacher from half-time to full-time to allow for 90 minutes of structured activities a week,” said principal Ethan Netterstrom.

Do you know a school working toward the HealthierUS School Challenge that we should spotlight? Let us know!