As the administrative adviser of the school system’s Wellness Council, Deputy Superintendent Monique Jackson surprised the principals at Benfield, Germantown, and Oak Hill elementary schools and Northeast and South River high schools today with news that their school communities had earned a 2016 AACPS Wellness School of Distinction award. The award recognizes schools that demonstrate a high priority for the health and well-being of students, staff, and school supporters by going beyond the curriculum to produce positive outcomes for the entire school community.
“Our Wellness Schools are shining examples of what it takes to fully support our students,” Mrs. Jackson said. “Creating a culture where wellness is a virtue can be accomplished with a strong commitment by school leadership and encouragement from the community. As we seek to provide an excellent education to our students, role modeling a healthy mindset comes with the territory.”
In order to win the prestigious honor, schools must show that its culture encompasses wellness as reflected in the ten components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. WSCC is a coordinated and collaborative school health approach outlined by the Centers for Disease Control. The components of the WSCC are: health education; physical activity; health services; nutrition environment & services; counseling, psychological, & social services; social & emotional climate; physical environment; employee wellness; family engagement; and community involvement.
From a signature program that incorporates an added dimension of wellness to accompany the curriculum to monthly fitness challenges for students and staff to health-focused afterschool clubs, each winning school’s approach to creating a culture of wellness is unique, but with one common factor: collaboration and motivation to be a well community.
This year, schools that won the award in 2013 were eligible to apply to maintain their statuses. South River High School earned its second designation. As an extension of the Board of Education policy on wellness and the AACPS Wellness Council, the award is given annually.
The application for the 2017 award will be available this spring. The Wellness Council created a toolkit  for schools seeking to infuse wellness into its everyday activities.