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Now That Your District Wellness Policy is in Place, What’s Next?

Sponsor: Dannon Institute

A conversation with Richard A. Abramson, M.Ed., Superintendent, School Union 42, Readfield, Maine.

What is the role of the district administrator in school wellness?

The superintendent sets the tone and expectations for programs and services. I worked with a part-time district wellness coordinator to create, organize and oversee a school/Community Wellness Council.

Tell us about your Wellness Council.

With the support of the school board and town officials, we expanded Wellness Council membership to include representatives from area communities and organizations. We listed all of the organizations and agencies who serve our area with recreation and wellness services and invited each to send a representative to serve on our Council. About six outside agencies and service organizations participate.

What is the top consideration when developing an assessment tool?

Keep it simple. As a school superintendent, I need straightforward feedback so I can judge the effectiveness of our policy. We looked at several models and chose a simple checklist that was developed by the wellness coordinator in another Maine school district.

Which obstacles might administrators encounter?

Time often presents challenges. District administrators have limited time to accomplish all of the goals and objectives of their wellness policy. Additionally, nationwide emphasis on testing and meeting educational standards has imposed signifi cant time constraints. Administrators need to think outside the box to accomplish and evaluate the objectives of a wellness policy in a time-efficient way.

What have you learned from the assessment process? What are the next steps?

Assessment provides regular and on-going feedback that tells us how we are doing to meet the objectives of our wellness policy. We use our checklist data to develop new strategies and modify existing strategies for meeting our wellness objectives.

Rich Abramson has been committed to health and fitness since 1976, when he made a personal commitment to stop smoking and get back into shape. He has served as a superintendent since 1995 in three Maine school districts.