School plan promotes wellness

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Promoting health and fitness during the school day will be thegoal of newly formed wellness committees in the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict.

In accordance with requirements by the Mississippi Department ofEducation, as well as state legislation, each school will have an11-member Wellness Committee focused on making healthier lifestylechanges for students. During Tuesday’s board meeting, districttrustees approved several appointments for wellness committees.

“The intent is to get input from the community of things theysee that could help make our students healthier,” saidSuperintendent Lea Barrett.

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She noted that the district had no problem finding “eagervolunteers” to serve on the committees, which are made up ofparents, students, healthcare providers, members of the clergy andschool officials.

“We’ll just be brainstorming and looking at ways to make healthand fitness more of an integral part of the school day, and alsomake it fun and interesting for children,” said Barrett.

Also Tuesday, saving the district almost half a million dollarsbrought nothing but smiles to board members and district officials- even if it meant they had to sign a handsomely thick stack oflegal documents.

The refunding of school district bonds at a lower interest ratewill mean a savings of about $450,000 for the district, said boardattorney Bob Allen. Tuesday’s action followed up on earlier boardaction regarding the bond plan.

“The board is trying to be financially responsible,” Barrettsaid. “Certainly that’s a considerable savings for the schooldistrict, and in essence, the taxpayers.”

In other matters, board members hope the approval of a mentorteacher for the school district will create and maintain a positiveenvironment in the classroom for both students and teachers in aunique way.

Sarah Loyd, a former Alexander Junior High social studiesteacher, will fill the newly created position as a mentor for allthe teachers in the district.

“She retired last year, but I talked her into coming backpart-time as a mentor because she always used a variety ofinstructional strategies in the classroom to keep the studentsinterested,” said Barrett.

Barrett said that during Loyd’s many years as a teacher, she wasoften seen dressing in character or using other non-traditionaltechniques to make learning fun. Loyd’s main focus as a mentor willbe geared toward first and second year teachers who could benefitfrom her guidance.

“Sometimes it helps to just have another person look at they wayyou teach something, and say ‘Have you ever thought of teaching itthis way?,'” said Barrett.

Studies have shown that teachers decide in their first fiveyears whether they want to continue that career, said Barrett. Shehopes having a successful teacher, like Loyd, as a mentor will makethat decision easier.

Loyd’s duties will include meeting with teachers, visiting theirclassrooms, helping with lesson plans and observing theirinstructional techniques.