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Communication Keeps Council on the Move

“Seek to understand first, then to be understood.” This is the motto that physical education teacher Jeff Boteler kept in mind as he worked to bring together the school’s first wellness council this year. He set out to learn the ins and outs of the Healthy Schools Program so that he could communicate the need for and the benefits of the program to his colleagues.

According to Boteler, a supportive administrator and a motivated staff has helped create a wellness council that is both resolute and resilient. Boteler has recognized the need to be creative when it comes to planning meetings. He has asked for 15 minutes before a regular staff meeting to meet and has held meetings on staff planning days, bringing in lunch items that are in compliance with the Alliance Competitive Food and Beverages Guidelines which he was able to use as a “teachable moment.” He also realized that it is important to not be too hard on people if they could not make a meeting. He takes the time to go back to them and fill them in on what they missed.

The wellness council now has ten staff members as well as two parent members. Each has taken on an important role for the council such as collecting documentation for certain areas, heading an employee wellness committee or recruitment. They keep the momentum going by always talking about their work at larger staff meetings and communicating with each other via email or in the hallways. They have worked to set clear expectations for themselves and are working diligently towards their goal of receiving the Bronze Recognition Award this year.

In addition to the great changes they have been working on at the school, one of the greatest benefits of the wellness council has been the strengthening of relationships between staff members and the improved communication between departments. Boteler added that he never knew that the regional area director for food and nutrition services works in the same building. Now he feels “comfortable enough to pop in and visit!”