• August Membership Meeting August 27, 2021

  • The Intersection of Public Health, Nutrition and Education;
    Are we Ready for School Year 2021-22?

      

    What is the role of nutrition in a child’s education?

    In a unique and substantive way, attendees to this meeting heard first hand and from some of the leading experts in public heath and nutrition, just where we are and what is happening in Arizona Schools for 2021-22 and guess what?  The news on the health and nutrition front is pretty amazing!  Let’s just take a quick cruise through this dynamic agenda and speaker line-up and see what we learned.

    Click HERE to view or download the AGENDA

     

    Featured Presenters

     

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    Dr. Melanie Mitros, Ph.D.   bio 

    view her slide deck here

    Director, Strategic Community Partnerships

    Dr. Mitros shared the Vitalyst strategic plan to improve well-being by addressing root causes and the broader issues that impact community health.  The “Elements of a Healthy Community” wheel incorporated the key elements of the community at large that working together inspired the strategy of Vitalyst.  The model incorporates access to healthcare, community safety, affordable quality housing, economic and educational opportunity, environmental quality, nutrition, community design, parks and recreation, social/cultural cohesion and justice and transportation. Indeed, as complex as this all sounds, it is the concept that “intersections” of major community impact prevent uncoordinated silos of activity.  There is far too much data and result from the benefits of combining these elements into every school site to be ignored and the pandemic has simply taken what was already well documented results and turned it into a much more broadly recognized and successful strategy for us all.

  • Dr. William Beverly, Ph.D.   bio

    Director of Behavioral Health Sciences and Counseling

     

    "The opportunity to make a difference in students' lives is immeasurable."

    His remarks provided a profound exclamation point to the entire tenor of those who spoke in the preceding panels as he discussed “being in the now” from a mental health point of view and gave a dramatic presentation on mindfulness, especially important in an epidemic when one might otherwise feel powerless to impact the massive inputs that seemingly do us and our community harm.  Indeed, the explanation of mindfulness was so well received that questions continued long after the presentation. 

    - Resiliency was viewed as how to deal with burnout but now has become a way to navigate difficult times. 

    - Mindfulness is an approach to well-being and mental health. 

    - Distinguish and understand the areas of concern and the areas of control in your life. 

  • 1st Panel 

    GCU has a long and proud tradition in its teachers training programs and was a leader in student health considerations from the very beginning of the pandemic.  In addition, GCU, very uniquely, positively involves the greater Maryvale community in its programs without exception, making it an incredible incubator of community involvement on even the most difficult subjects, which the pandemic has certainly proven to be.

    The first panel clearly suggested that the pandemic impacts have made significant and valuable inroads into teacher training and concepts of health, nutrition and safety for every school.  It is now being ingrained into every future teacher as a permanent and valuable tool for their career success.  Their tips: 

    • Foster one-on-one relationships
    • Expand your world view and see through others' lens
    • Being pro-active and re-active both take effort and time.  
  • Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Ed.D.  bio

    Assistant Vice President

    Moderator, 1st Panel

    -  We’re all in this together

    -  We are prepared and up to the challenge

    -  We have communicated up and down our faculty tree to ensure consistent messaging that carefully follows public health protocols and incorporates them both on and off campus.

  • Dr. Crystal McCabe   bio

    Professor, College of Education  

    -  GCU students are fully engaged in all actions to both make their attendance safe and healthy but to also engage others to encourage healthy choices

    -  GCU faculty is very united behind the scope and the impacts of public health exigencies and are better prepared than ever to continue with these “lessons learned” throughout their careers.

  • Dr. Stephanie Nilsen   bio

    Assistant Professor  

    College of Education

    - The health and nutrition protocols developed in response to the Pandemic impacts and readiness to resume classes planned for and are now engaging are not likely temporary, but will continue long into the future as a permanent part of their student training. 

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    Katie Sprute   bio

    Faculty Chair/Assistant Professor  

    College of Education

    - School districts have long been considered for additional resources to promote not only student, but faculty and staff health on campus, and that day is here!  

    - The model for incorporating health and nutrition is not a temporary fix.  It is a permanent and positive development in teacher training.

  • 2nd Panel

     

    Our first panel clearly suggested that the pandemic impacts have made significant and valuable inroads into teacher training and concepts of health, nutrition and safety for every school.  It is now curriculum embedded for the benefit of every future teacher.  This strategy is thus a permanent and valuable tool for teacher career success.  But what about the professional, clinical community?  What have they found in our Arizona schools this year?

  •  Kavita Bernstein

    Program Manager   bio 

    Ms. Bernstein shared a decades long strategy to deal with early childhood needs in the social/emotional landscape.  Nutrition, health and safety have always been a part of their plan, but their services during the pandemic provided a keen and important resource to school sites stressed more than ever before and the results continue to be demonstrated and documented.  Students that are engaged with health, safety and nutritional focus, are able to successfully engage academic achievement expectations.  Unfortunately, many Arizona students, especially in some of our urban areas, lead the nation in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).   Ms. Bernstein's final thought: think of the kids in the broader context of their family environment and their support systems.  

  • Shomari Jackson MPA

    Project Coordinator  bio 

    Mr. Jackson shared that his work, like never before, was both in demand and, at least to some extent, qualifying for additional funding.  That effort is resulting in new behavioral tools getting to Arizona’s most needy children whose life experience under “normal” circumstances would have been challenging.  This is especially important to consider when the South Phoenix student populations features some of the highest ACES impact in the entire country.   And clearly the disproportionate impacts are manifest in low income, high crime and, tragically, unstable households.  Again these challenges were made even worse by the Covid epidemic.  But the good news is, the recognition for this work has never been better and is unlikely to be ignored on into the future.  Mr. Jackson emphasized the importance of "cross collaboration." 

  • Kristina Estelle Mollner, MS, RDN   bio  

    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

    Balsz Elementary School District  

    Ms. Mollner and Ms. Zuniga shared that not only is nutrition a key facet of every school meal they prepare, but they also make it FUN!  Yes, good food that is good for you has the obvious, positive impacts on students’ academic and social performance in school, but making food fun has never been more strategic than now and the combination of documented nutrition and enjoyable eating habits and tastes is here to stay.

    -  Students need a voice in their eating and menu choices at school. 

    -  Distinguish disordered eating from eating disorders.    

     

  • Kendal Zuniga   bio

    Arizona Marketing Manager

    Ms. Mollner and Ms. Zuniga shared that not only is nutrition a key facet of every school meal they prepare, but they also make it FUN!  Yes, good food that is good for you has the obvious, positive impacts on students’ academic and social performance in school, but making food fun has never been more strategic than now and the combination of documented nutrition and enjoyable eating habits and tastes is here to stay.

    -  Gardens provide great opportunities for socializing and experiencing the senses. 

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    Host Sponsor

     

    Thank you!