Healthy Schools Support Learning: J.C. Sawyer Elementary School

J.C. Sawyer Elementary School - Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County School District, NJ

On October 2, 2015, at the 2015 Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation will recognize J.C. Saywer Elementary School as one of 376 schools that have transformed the school environment into a healthier place as part of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

The Healthy Schools Program, a national, school-based childhood obesity prevention initiative, has worked with more than 30,000 schools to increase quality physical activity, health education, and nutrition.

The Program is particularly important as aside from home, kids spend most of their time at school, making schools important places to influence kids’ behavior and lifelong health habits. Research shows that healthy students learn better: they perform better on tests, get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class.

Physical activity and healthy eating go hand-in-hand at J.C. Sawyer Elementary School, where students and staff enjoy many opportunities to make healthy choices. The school revamped its schedule to ensure that students participate in at least 55 minutes of physical education per week. Students take walking breaks with their teachers throughout the week to stretch their legs and refresh their minds. Every other Friday, students and staff welcome the weekend by heading outside for basketball, football, jump rope, and many other physical activity programs.


"Our school nurse and physical education teacher tracked the obesity rate at J. C. Sawyer over the past three years - we had a 7% decrease!"

- Julie Gregory, Healthful Living Teacher


To promote healthy eating, the school offers a lunch menu full of nutritious meals and ensures that all food sold outside of the meals program align with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards. The Alliance's Product Calculator for Smart Snacks helped schools staff ensure that all food items met the criteria. Staff receive wellness newsletters via email, featuring nutrition tips and healthy recipes to try at home.

“The Healthy Schools Program has been an excellent resource for ideas and ways to achieve our wellness goals,” said Julie Gregory, physical education teacher. The healthy changes are already having a noticeable impact on the students and the community.