Originally published Sept. 20, 2018 in the Post-Bulletin.
By Katie Lauer
Sumner Elementary School was named one of the nation’s healthiest schools Monday by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Earning a silver award, Sumner made the list as one of only two Minnesota schools. The second was a Minneapolis community school at the bronze level.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation identified 461 schools in the nation based on their ability to meet health-based criteria, including serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality health and physical education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.
“The most important investments we can make are those that support kids’ health and education,” Alliance for a Healthier Generation chief program officer Brian Weaver said. “We applaud these 461 award-winning schools for finding creative ways to keep all kids active, eating healthy and engaged in learning while setting them on a path to lifelong health.”
Tina Henely, a teacher and member of the wellness committee at Sumner Elementary, said staff are excited they earned a spot on the list again, upgrading from their bronze award last year.
“I think it’s quite an honor to be the only school in the state of Minnesota to achieve silver,” Henley said. “I think it means that we’re progressive and are always looking for ways to make the educational experience better.”
On top of the school’s already implemented health-oriented practices, such as brain breaks and healthier cafeteria options, Henely said they increased the weekly duration of physical education and replaced water fountains with hydration stations for students’ water bottles.
“I think our staff is very well aware of the research that is behind increased physical activity, the chemical reactions that happen in the brain and how that increases student learning,” she said, “so for the most part, everyone was on board because they knew that it would be beneficial for students’ growth and achievement.”
She said she believes this award is direct recognition for the work Sumner Elementary’s entire staff does to provide a holistic approach to education.
“We can’t educate learners until they’re ready, and for a lot of our kids they need to be both ready in their body and mind to be a good student,” Henely said. “We recognize it’s more than just knowing how to teach.”