Health in Florida Schools Starts at the Top


Leon County, Florida, with a population of just over 280,000 people, is home to the state’s capital, Tallahassee. Nearly a tenth of its residents are children and teens who attend Leon County School District—classified as a Title 1 District, meaning that more than 40 percent of students qualify for free and reduced price meals. Leon County School have been working towards a healthy learning environment for students with the Healthy Schools Program since 2012.


District Support Creates a Culture of Health in Schools


“The trainings that our district has been able to do through the Alliance has really made a difference and filtered down to the school level.”

-       Laurie Cox, Physical Education Teacher, Roberts Elementary School


Thanks to support from Superintendent Jackie Pons, Dr. Alan Cox, Divisional Director, Health Education & Wellness for the district, was able to work with Florida Healthy Schools Program Manager Stephen McCloskey to get all Leon County schools enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program and working towards each school’s unique wellness goals.


Here’s how they did it and how your district can get on the path to wellness, too:

Update Wellness Policy

The district formed a committee to revise their district wellness policy that included representatives from all aspects of the school system, referencing the Alliance’s Model Wellness Policy.

View Model Wellness Policy

Identify Wellness Leads

Dr. Cox worked with each school to identify a wellness lead who attends workshops and acts as the main point of contact to disseminate health information back to their school wellness teams.

Learn how to Build Support

Improve School Nutrition

All schools were required to bring any food or beverage served or sold on campus into compliance with the USDA’s standards, including foods sold at concession stands and during celebrations.

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Meet the Change Makers

Dr. Alan Cox, Divisional Director, Health Education & Wellness

“The Alliance has been a great resource for Leon County Schools. With the help of the Healthy Schools Program giving us a structure, we've been able to get [wellness] into the schools.”

Dr. Cox began his career in the classroom as a high school physical education and health teacher so he truly understands the importance of teaching kids to develop healthy habits. In his free time, he is an avid competitor in triathlons and marathons, setting an example of healthy living for all the district’s students.

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Randy Baez, Music Teacher and Wellness Lead, DeSoto Trail Elementary School

“Teachers tell me that they appreciate all the changes we’ve made, especially removing sugary snacks and reward parities. They feel their kids are more alert and concentrate better without them.”

Randy is a two-time cancer survivor who, after shedding nearly 100 pounds, has become a Zumba instructor and an inspiration for many in her school community. With Randy’s leadership, DeSoto Trail Elementary School replaced food-based rewards for students with a menu of healthier alternatives and implemented 10 minutes of jogging or walking to start each school day.

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Watch how one change agent can alter a school’s culture of health.

Learn More


Learn more about the Healthy Schools Program and get started by signing up at

We thank The JPB Foundation for support of our Program in Florida, including Leon County School District.


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