Robert E. Lee Elementary School is among the 781 schools nationwide and just one of five schools in Tennessee to be named America’s Healthiest Schools for the 2022-2023 school year. The recognition, awarded by Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a leading children’s health organization, celebrates schools’ dedication to supporting the health and well-being of students, staff, and families.
“We are thrilled to be an awardee and to be on the 2023 list for two consecutive years as one of America’s Healthiest Schools,” said REL Principal Mary Gilbert. “This award represents the dedication, commitment, and hard work of our staff, students, parents, and community for REL to be recognized in five categories. We are committed to intentionally implementing activities like Harmony Meet-Up and Buddy-Up to strengthen social-emotional health and learning for the whole child. With the fantastic support of our district, REL has continued to implement initiatives we believe are beneficial for our students and staff. As a part of Tullahoma City Schools, we are committed to challenging students today for a limitless tomorrow.”
This honor marks the second consecutive year that Robert E. Lee Elementary School has been named one of America’s Healthiest Schools. During the 2022-2023 school year, Robert E. Lee Elementary School prioritized health policies and practices and is being awarded for its efforts in five categories.
Supporting School Health Services
Robert E. Lee Elementary School initiated a new awareness program for students with life-threatening allergies, including additional education with substitute teachers. This program included signage available throughout the district in coordination with the district’s Coordinated School Health Director, Gina Bumbalough.
Each year, students receive hearing and vision screenings, while the majority also receive blood pressure and BMI index screenings. Information is provided in both English and Spanish to students and families on healthy eating habits and increased physical activity. Additionally, school nurse Beth Hill provides valuable medical information to the staff who would need to know about students with chronic health conditions during the school day. General health information is also shared during professional development and staff meetings.
Implementing Local School Wellness Policy
Robert E. Lee Elementary School aligns with TCS District Policy, which includes developing, implementing, monitoring, reviewing, and, as necessary, making recommendations regarding physical activity and nutrition policies. REL physical education met and exceeded the state time requirements while using grant funding for additional physical activity equipment for recess and family engagement activities such as the PE Extravaganza and Field Day.
Bolstering Physical Education and Activity
All Robert E. Lee Elementary students have physical education for 45 minutes four times a week, bonus PE for 30 minutes weekly and recess time scheduled for 30 minutes per day. Special education teachers and the PE instructor, Macie Honey, collaboratively plan for bonus PE. Additionally, REL students participate in a PE Extravaganza or Field Day with parents and community members invited to attend.
Strengthening Social-Emotional Health and Learning
Robert E. Lee Elementary School uses an evidence-based, sequential, active, focused and explicit Harmony Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. The school’s primary focus has been using everyday practices such as Buddy Up, which pairs different students each week to participate in brief activities, discussions and check-ins. On Friendship Fridays, our fifth-grade and kindergarten partners buddy up, working together on various activities, games, crafts, reading, reviewing sight words and building and engaging in conversation. This partnership has greatly benefited fifth-graders in developing leadership skills as role models and for kindergarten students who need additional social and academic support. Due to this success, other grades are now working with younger grades, such as third-grade students partnering as buddies with first-graders.
Additionally, REL fifth-grade students select Harmony Superlatives, allowing them to nominate and vote on those individuals who exemplify empathy, kindness, respect and more. Legendary Lions are students chosen to assist with special activities throughout the school and participate in crafts, learning-based projects, writing and performances.
Teachers engage students in welcoming each other, sharing thoughts and ideas and participating in community-building activities. The school reviews the data to determine the SEL curriculum’s impact.
Cultivating Staff Well-Being
Cultivating staff well-being is accomplished through several efforts. The Robert E. Lee Elementary School administration celebrates its faculty with staff “shoutouts,” REL Celebrations and News each week, and daily REL Important Information. Additionally, the school has food trucks come on Fridays and occasional special treats such as donuts, breakfast bar, hot chocolate bar, coffee, and ice cream courtesy of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. The school uses GroupMe and Google Docs, so staff members can share needs and give shoutouts to their peers to focus on the positive happenings throughout the campus.
About Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Healthier Generation’s list of America’s Healthiest Schools remains one of the country’s longest-running nationwide recognition programs honoring schools for achievements in supporting the whole health of students, teachers, and staff. Any school can connect with Healthier Generation to access trainings, resources, and technical assistance by visiting HealthierGeneration.org.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a leading children’s health organization that advances equitable whole-child health. Driven by our passion to ensure that every mind, everybody, and every young person is healthy and ready to succeed, our work has reached over 31 million young people across the country. To learn more and help make a difference, visit HealthierGeneration.org and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
To view the complete list of awardees, visit HealthierGeneration.org/HealthiestSchools.