On a sunny day in June, just a few days before the end of the school year, PE teacher Christine Kijowski—better known as Coach K around James Wadsworth Elementary School’s campus—orchestrated an outdoor morning for students.
Students harvested produce from the school’s garden, read in the outdoor classroom, ran on the track, played basketball on the court and played in the school’s two play equipment areas. The Wadsworth Space to Grow schoolyard opened at the beginning of this school year, and it’s obvious the school has embraced the new space with open arms.
A huge part of that embrace has been Coach K. In addition to being a PE teacher at the school, Coach K is also the school’s wellness champion. The school wellness champion, designated by the principal, is required to lead and coordinate the school’s efforts to comply with the wellness policy and serve as the liaison to the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness. Every school is required to convene a wellness team to lead the implementation of the policy at the school level.
In order to form the wellness team at Wadsworth, Coach K reached out to all of Wadsworth’s stakeholders, including teachers, parents and partner organizations. Building the wellness team at Wadsworth has had a huge impact on the school’s overall health and wellness culture.
Not only was she successful in building a diverse wellness team, she also got parents involved in other efforts. She reached out to Wadsworth’s Parent Resource Coordinator, not only to recruit parents, but to get an idea of what type of health related activities the parents would be interested in.
Coach K’s efforts have resulted in several changes at Wadsworth. She encouraged teachers to incorporate physical activity into the school day by using Wadsworth’s schoolyard, motivated staff to complete training on chronic disease management and attended the necessary trainings so Wadsworth could be Eat What You Grow certified. Coach K also participated in our Fit to Learn professional development program that supports teachers in incorporating health and wellness into every part of the school day.
Thank you for all of your hard work, Coach K!