Originally published Sept. 6, 2022 by the Enid News & Eagle.
By Suzie Byrd
Hayes Elementary School recently received a three-year grant from Healthy Schools Oklahoma, an Oklahoma no-profit for improving outcomes for children in Oklahoma.
“Our physical education teacher, Tiara Darling, is responsible for writing the grant for our school,” said Principal Jamie Jarnagin. “We are excited about implementing the program.”
Last year, Darling was on a state committee revising standards of the physical education teacher.
“I think it is very important to change the past perception of PE teachers and to involve them more in academics,” she said. “Academics in physical education and physical education in academics.”
The philosophy of the program is “moving helps the brain work.” The Healthy Schools program is based on how to do movement in the class and class in the gym.
“A good example is using a hula-hoop to tell time by placing the students hands in the right place for the time,” Darling said.
She says anything that makes you cross the midline of the body also helps you learn.
On Friday, Kym Hardin, physical education and health coordinator with Healthy Schools Oklahoma, was at Hayes on the professional day to help teachers learn the program.
The Healthy Schools Oklahoma nonprofit was started in 1997 by doctors in Oklahoma County who were concerned with medical issues with children.
“They had a passion for quality physical education in the schools and wanted to see healthier outcomes,” Hardin said.
The program is being run through Bethany Children’s Health Center and approved by the State Department of Education.
Darling was a traveling physical education teacher and taught at most of the Enid schools. She left for six years to be with her daughter then came back to Hayes where she just started her fourth year.
“I love teaching academics in PE, and am excited to be doing it at Hayes,” she said.
Jarnagin is in her fifth year as principal at Hayes. She taught previously at Hayes before being at Eisenhower Elementary School for two years.
“I’m glad to be home at Hayes doing the job I was meant to do,” she said. “We have great teachers here who help each other and pull together.”
Garfield Elementary School also has the Healthy Schools grant and is in its second year with the program.