Michelle is our National Wellness Policies, Staff Wellness and Out-of-School Time Physical Activity Advisor and she is ready to support your efforts to improve your program.
Connect with Michelle
Head over to our Training Center where you can learn about new trends from Michelle and share your ideas and best practices with other school leaders.
1. What is it that you really do at the Alliance?
I serve as a cheerleader, coach and teacher! I’m here to provide support and expertise to schools who are working to improve student and employee wellness within their school building and that includes before and after school too. That sounds really vague so here are some concrete topics I work on with schools: making sure recess stays in school, providing easy ideas for teachers to include movement as part of their class time, connecting schools with resources to help them successfully bike or walk to school, designing wellness programs (or sometimes “challenges”) to get teachers to eat healthy and move more … and so much more!
2. What has brought you and kept you in this line of work?
I worked as a classroom teacher and always incorporated physical activity throughout the school day. I tend to get antsy if I sit too long and I’m sure my students sensed it. As a teacher, I wanted to do recess too! And, physical activity is just a natural part of my daily life so I’m walking the talk too.
3. Why schools or out-of-school time?
If you want to reach kids, you have to meet them where they are! Between the instructional school day and before and afterschool programs, you’ve got a lot of touch points with students. Creating an environment that encourages movement and healthy habits will create a foundation that will shape the rest of their lives. Schools and out-of-school time programs are a no-brainer to me.
4. On the rare, almost nonexistent, occurrence when you’re not being healthy, what is your guilty pleasure?
Key Lime Pie and Pizza – not together of course!
5. Are there any changes or developments in the school or out-of-school time health space that have caught your attention and you are excited to see continued?
My past work has been in afterschool programming so to see my organization (Alliance) and other National Youth Organizations come together with the National Afterschool Association to create Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Standards for Out-of-School Time programs is very exciting to me.
6. If you were just starting to make healthy change at your school or out-of-school time setting, what would be the first thing on your to do list?
This may make me sound biased because I work on employee wellness issues but my first to do would be to establish an employee wellness program. As educators, you, your school building and school district are programmed to do everything for your students. We know how important it is for staff to be healthy but sometimes we forget about the adults. I remember my first year of teaching, not only did I eat “grab and go” unhealthy food, but I went home and collapsed after teaching all day. Then I was hit by the “kiddo’s germs” that my body was not used to. This caused me to miss school days which wasn’t good for the district and certainly didn’t help to establish consistency for the students. My favorite thing to hear when I’m working with schools is when the staff say, “Wow, something finally for me!” I truly believe that each school can make some type of healthy change for their school staff and once they’re engaged in the activities, you’re sure to see, more smiling faces.
7. Do you have any “unique” physical activity practices (e.g. do you partake in roller derby)?
I am currently enrolled in boot camp and I believe it is either going to kill me or make me stronger. The jury is still out.
8. What is your favorite part of your job?
I know this sounds cliché, but the people. I love working with those motivated champions within the school building that work so hard to make small changes year after year that add up to BIG results. And, my fellow team of program advisors at the Alliance. Between all of us I truly believe we can change the world one school at a time. And we happen to have a lot of fun while doing it.