Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yes We Can!

I could recount the highlights of my day in Ms. Allen’s pre-k classroom but it would include every moment: the predawn pump-up jams as we carpooled to school, singing good morning to the class fish, Fishy, reading about Barack Obama, stretching out and spelling F-R-O-G, hopping over sight words, treasure hunting for pine cones, and writing sight words in shaving cream. Ms. Allen’s classroom is a world of its own. You step into this remarkable universe of colors and shapes where every moment is infused with creativity, and anything is possible. Ms. Allen and her Star Scholars create an environment where everyone challenges each other to be their best selves. The level of love and respect is matched only by the expectation of achievement. I am thrilled to be a part a part of the community that is her classroom.

- Lolly Beck-Pancer

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Public Health and Education; The Ultimate Power Couple

  This week Ariela and Lauren put together a wonderful presentation on the intersection between education and health.  The articles and discussion focused on how a student's health directly impacts their academic performance.  Maybe its my innate public healthiness, but I could only think about this issue from the opposite side; how education directly impacts someone's health.
   We all know that the education you receive as a child impacts everything you do later in life; if you go to college,  what kind of jobs you get, who you meet; the list goes on and on. But what about the direct impacts on health?  Did you know that adults with only a high school diploma have a higher percentage of obese individuals than those with some college? (Obesity and Education)  And then there's the huge issue of health literacy. If we are lucky enough to see a doctor do we even understand what they are telling us? For most Americans that is an absolute NO.  According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, over 1/3 of adults would have trouble with basic health tasks such as following prescription instructions (Health Literacy).
   Corps members, I don't have to remind you of all the kids you see every year who can barely read.  But now you can think about all those hours you spend working with them in a different light.  Every page that you push them to struggle through has a direct effect on their current and future health.  So thank you for all the hours you spend reading with your kids.  You just made my job easier and America healthier.


                                                                                     Jennifer Reid

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Nod, Gateway to the Classroom

"Ms. Bryson, who's she?"

That's all it took. Just one question would let me into the lives of dozens of students. I looked at the curious faces, turning back to see me-- the recent addition to their class. Amy Bryson, a Teach For America Corps Member, had welcomed me into her middle school science classroom to share my knowledge in environmental health. All I had to do now was learn to teach.

"Hi, everyone! My name is Ms. Gaelle. I'll be coming to your class to learn from Ms. Bryson and from you. I want to get to know you and see how you like to learn. Then, I'll be teaching some of you about health! Does that sound good?"

With a few nods from the students, I was in! After just a couple of hours in the classroom, I witnessed the remarkable flexibility and energy that teaching requires. I also witnessed the mixture of enthusiasm and intimidation that learning creates.

I realized that education is more than just passion. What I need now are the right tools. Luckily, Ms. Bryson and the Classroom to Community program are ready with just what I’m going to need! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ConnectEd 4 Health: Community Partners in Action

As a corps member with Teach For America, I am thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside graduate students to build on a shared passion for social justice to impact the health and education landscape here in Atlanta. The Classroom to Community seminar offers the ideal avenue to bridge the professional interests of corps members, spanning education and health policy, medicine, or public health, with the expertise of MPH candidates.

The seminar provides a forum for graduate student and corps member pairs (go team Jaime Escalante!) to deliver frontier research in primary and secondary classrooms, while further developing instructional leaders. Graduate students and corps members alike are afforded the unique opportunity to practice at the intersection of health and education, gaining exposure to a variety of scholarly and practical perspectives that will affect student outcomes and ultimately the health of surrounding communities.

The Classroom to Community seminar strengthens the ConnectEd 4 Health partnership between Rollins School of Public Health and Teach For America’s Health Leadership Track (HLT). The HLT is an initiative put forth by “health-minded” educators to create avenues of opportunity for corps members to begin addressing both the health and educational needs of students. I have no doubt the ConnectEd 4 Health partnership will renew a commitment to the students and their families in Atlanta’s most underserved communities, while laying the groundwork for a model for future collaborative efforts between Teach For America placement sites and public health institutions. It is invigorating to work with a team dedicated to partnering effectively to ensure our work advances the broader good for the children we serve.

Cheers to the formal kick-off, to the upcoming semester, and to the pursuit of our collective vision!

-Michael Turgeon, 2010 Corps Member, Teach For America

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hats Off to the Kick-off!

From left: Audra, Michael, me (Sahar), and Lolly
What an awesome kick-off event to get us started for the Classroom to Community seminar this coming semester! This past Wednesday evening, Atlanta Teach for America (TFA) teachers and Emory graduate students were brought together at Carpe Diem in Decatur to have the opportunity to meet one another, face-to-face, over some food and drinks.

It was such a wonderful experience to see everyone and acknowledge all of the effort and energy that has gone into this initiative so far. Each of us was introduced to the TFA teacher that we had been paired with—giving us a chance to further discuss our shared interests in health and education. There’s nothing more empowering and exciting than having a group of people together who are all interested in making a change—in this case, a change in our communities and schools.

Erica, Alvin, Sarah, Shawn, and Nina
At the kick-off event, Ariela had put together an activity that was designed for us to talk about ourselves and our respective fields. Some questions prompted us to share our “craziest” classroom/public health experiences, which individual inspires us, and our personal definitions of Teach for America and public health.

What I enjoyed most about meeting everyone that evening was simply listening to what it was that brought each of us to join this effort, and our specific interests in the Classroom to Community course. This is what had the most lasting impression on me.

Gaelle, Amy, Kathleen, Scot, and Jenny
I am very excited to be able to apply my public health knowledge in a classroom setting, and to learn first-hand from TFA teachers and students about the health and educational needs of our local Atlanta schools. After Wednesday’s kick-off event, it’s evident that this is just the beginning of something very big and very amazing!

- Sahar Salek, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meet the Leadership and Support Team

"We are the music makers; we are the dreamers of dreams." - Arthur O'Shaughnessy

This class would not be possible without the great support and active engagement of many people. Meet the crew who have made this class happen.

Ariela Freedman
Teach for America (Chicago, ’00)
Assistant Research Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
 I love teaching. Working with students of all ages – from preschool through PhD school – is my passion. Creating this course is a way for me to reconnect with my experience as a Teach for America corps member many years ago. Even more importantly, Classroom to Community is a way to bring the rigor of Teach for America’s Teaching as Leadership framework into the way we think about teaching future health educators at Rollins. It is my hope from this class that my students leave feeling empowered and inspired to be excellent health educators. Further, I hope that our Teach for America corps members are motivated to seek further education in public health!

Lauren Lamont
Teach for America (Atlanta, ’08)
Manager, Teacher Leadership Development at Teach for America

Audra Williams
Teach for America (Atlanta, ’06)
MD/MPH Student, Rollins School of Public Health and Emory School of Medicine
I am so excited to a part of this Classroom to Community collaboration. As a TFA alum and current medical and public health student I have been looking for ways to combine my passions for education and health. In both arenas I have seen firsthand how a lack of education can lead to poor health outcomes and how health problems can limit education opportunity. Through this class I'm looking forward to getting back into the classroom and seeing the impact that this group can make!

Kristin Unzicker
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Botswana '04-06)
Director of Leadership and Community Engaged Learning, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Julia Painter
Teach for America (Atlanta, ’01)
Post-doctoral Fellow, Vaccinology Training Program, Rollins School of Public Health and Emory University School of Medicine
I loved teaching high school with TFA, and I miss it all the time. I also still feel strongly connected to TFA's mission. While teaching, I was frustrated by the many health issues that prevented my students from focusing in the classroom, which  drove me to pursue a career in public health. I try to link my public health research to adolescent and school health whenever I can. I am very excited about the Rollins/TFA partnership which has the potential to positively impact students and teachers in so many ways!

Meet the Pairs! (Educational Leaders)

We have 14 teams in our class, each comprised of one Emory student (nearly all public health) and one Teach for America corps member. To make the class fun and to inspire everyone to learn more about the transformational leaders who have shaped our fields, we've divided the class in half and named each pair. The pairs in this half are named after leaders in education. Click on the link in each team name to learn more about its namesake.

Team (Geoffrey) CANADA

Jennifer Reid, MPH Candidate, Hubert Department of Global Health
I think that health education in schools is an important starting point for a healthy life which often gets passed over to meet other state and federal education requirements.  I also love working with adolescents and its one group of people where I feel I really can make a positive influence in their lives.

Sunni Krengel, 9th grade biology, Therrell High School

Team (John) DEWEY

Negar Avaregan, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
I was drawn to this program due to its unique opportunity to apply the health education skills that I have learned, in an academic environment.  This will provide me with practice that will be invaluable for my future aspirations as a health educator.  This program will allow me to understand the intricacies of teaching in a school environment, while giving me the opportunity to develop, practice, tailor, and present health curricula to a younger audience.

Kay Bloomberg, Second Grade, Frank L. Stanton Elementary School
I applied to Classroom to Community because of my general lack of health knowledge. Four years of living with nurses has not rubbed off on me in any significant way (although I know the names of a lot of drugs), and because of that my students lack quality health education.  I see it in their hygiene, their nutrition, and the way they take care of themselves (or don't.) I want my kids to learn early how to look after their own well-being. 

Team (Michelle) RHEE

Erin Keyes, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
I am interested in this class because of the opportunity it grants to engage and participate in my Atlanta community.  It is based in tangible experience and a dynamic excitement to educate and empower kids from a variety of ages all across Atlanta.  In this program, we comprehend that health is not only the absence of disease, but a combination of factors from physical to mental to spiritual and beyond!

Chrissy Booth, 10th and 11th grade chemistry, Washington High School
I'm excited for this opportunity to empower the young people in my classes both as current students and as potential future health providers. So many of the kids I teach would be better students if they could improve their health. I look forward to incorporating more public health education into my classroom and also to working with my Emory partner.

Team (Booker T.) WASHINGTON

Carrie Oliver, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
I was interested in participating in Classroom to Community because of my future goal to develop a standardized sexual health curriculum for high school students. I have a strong passion for both working with the youth and health education and am looking for a way to merge these two areas of interest. I feel that Classroom to Community will get me one step closer to accomplishing that goal. 

Sofiya Erman, 9th grade biology, South Atlanta High School
I joined this class because there is a huge correlation between education and access to healthcare.  I want my students and their families to have the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy, educated decisions.  With this class, we can begin to make a dent in the health and educational disparities that exist in the classroom and in the communities in which we work.  

Team (Jaime) ESCALANTE

Sahar Salek, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
The Classroom to Community course fosters an environment for community-engaged learning, and I am both inspired and motivated by all of our diverse sets of interests and skills that bring us together for this.  With the opportunity to collaborate and learn from current TFA teachers and students, I hope to gain a better understanding of school health and educational needs, and identify areas in which we, as a community, can make efforts to improve health resources within Atlanta schools. I look forward to learning from everyone this coming semester!

Michael Turgeon, 9th grade biology, Banneker High School
My experiences as a Teach For America corps member have brought to light the barriers that limit access to high-quality health resources in low-income communities. There is a substantial need for a comprehensive approach to conduct health education in public schools, and the Classroom to Community seminar offers an avenue to address those inequities. Working with health experts, I hope to revamp the current health curriculum, deliver frontier research, and assess the health needs of my school—all to ultimately empower the surrounding community.

Team (Howard) GARDNER

Lolly Beck-Pancer, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
I believe that the community is our greatest teacher, especially four-year-olds. Interacting with and learning from children gives me energy and fuels my drive to make a difference. I'm excited to encourage children to be environmentally conscious, and I look forward to gaining valuable experience towards becoming a school-based health educator. I am grateful to be a part of this unique partnership with Teach for America.

Julie Allen, Pre-kindergarten, Camby Lane Elementary School
I am outraged by the disadvantages facing our nation's low-income children, and one of the biggest challenges for the pre-k age group is a lack of proper nutrition, poor sleep habits, and no access to healthcare including basic dental, vision, and hearing screenings. I hope that by bringing an MPH student into my classroom, they will be more committed than ever to work for this population while providing my students with exposure to health issues.


Team (Wendy) KOPP

Sarah File, MPH Candidate, Global Epidemiology
I wanted to participate in Classroom to Community because I have been trying to figure out how to combine my interests in teaching and public health research into a career that has an impact on the community.  Though I have several years of teaching experience, I do not have any formal training around curriculum development, child development, or health education.  I look forward to working with and learning from everyone in this group, and hope to enhance the health education of Atlanta-area students.

Trent Murphy, 9th grade math, Stephenson High School
I plan on attending medical school and have been very interested in health issues, particularly in how we can improve health initiatives in low-income communities. I believe the classroom is the best environment for proper health education and want to do my part on improving that process. 

Meet the Pairs! (Public Health and Social Justice Leaders)

We have 14 teams in our class, each comprised of one Emory student (nearly all public health) and one Teach for America corps member. To make the class fun and to inspire everyone to learn more about the transformational leaders who have shaped our fields, we've divided the class in half and named each pair. The pairs in this half are named after leaders in public health and social justice. Click on the link in each team name to learn more about its namesake. 

Team (Cesar) CHAVEZ

Brianna Keefe-Oates, MPH Candidate, Global Health
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Dominican Republic '08-'11)
I am interested in this course because of my passions for youth development and health (and of course the combination of the two).  Because I have seen that schools are an effective way to reach youth, I'd like to use this course to learn more about working in schools and developing curricula that have an important impact on students' health.  I'm also excited to familiarize myself with the Atlanta community and learn about what health issues concern and interest youth in the Atlanta area.

Kathleen Kayner Mitchell, 7th grade science, Freedom Middle School
I am really excited to be a part of this class; almost everyday I see the ill effects of poor health on my student's education, and I see this class as a way to bridge the gap not only in their education but also in their health care. I believe this class will address the needs of my students and offer collaborative solutions to common health care issues in public education. 


Team (Jim) CURRAN
Alvin Tran, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
Before my MPH, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a Health Educator at an HIV-positive orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There I taught  hand-washing and teeth-brushing skills in a small classroom setting. This experience ignited my interests in health education as I found great enjoyment in educating others.  Classroom to Community provides the opportunity to apply curriculum design and planning skills and valuable teaching experience in an under-served community.

Shawn Kacker, 11th grade physics, South Atlanta High School


Team (Paul) FARMER

Erika Rees, MPH Candidate, Environmental Health
I am very passionate about environmental issues, particularly air pollution and climate change.  These issues are scientifically complex and often controversial, but I feel that proper education about the subjects can lead to their resolution.  For the past year and a half, I have co-led an environmental club at Springdale Park Elementary School.

Scot Seitz, 6th grade science, Ivy Prep Academy
I plan to work as a public health researcher investigating the link between the achievement gap and health disparities. However, I lack experience with direct health education and its role in reducing health disparities. This class will help me better understand how health education can be utilized in my future work, and it will also help me make an even broader impact on my current students. 


Team (Michael) POLLAN

Kristi Webster, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
As an undergraduate at University of Connecticut I worked for an after-school program that served low-income children in Hartford. Not only did I have a blast teaching children about nutrition and physical activity, but that experience helped me decide to enter the field of public health. Since coming to Rollins I have been looking to gain more hands-on experience in health education, and Classroom to Community provides the perfect opportunity for that.

Grayce Selig, 11th grade chemistry, McNair High School
A student’s health and their classroom performance are intertwined. I have come to the realization that my students will have trouble succeeding in the classroom if their personal health wavers. Coming to this understanding, I am excited to partner with the Rollins School of Public Health in order to expose  my students to vital information, which otherwise, they may not get anywhere else.


Team (Eleanor) ROOSEVELT

Alice S. Byrd, MPH Candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
 I am interested in the Classroom to Community program because both my focus professionally and in courses has been on health in an educational setting. I really enjoy working with students, and hope that I will be able to help design school-based health programs when I graduate. This program seems like a perfect match for my interests and I am excited to gain hands-on experience working with students.

Jenny Drucker, 1st grade, George A. Towns Elementary School


Team (John) SNOW

Erica Hazra, MPH Candidate, Global Epidemiology
I love working with kids, especially middle-schoolers. I also strongly believe that public health and education must go hand-in-hand. Prevention is the foundation of public health, and one important way to build that foundation is by incorporating the promotion of health and wellness into childhood education. I hope that by participating in this course, I will learn how to apply my interests and strengths towards successfully incorporating health education into my career.

Nina Hyvarinen, 7th grade science, Bethune Middle School
I wanted to become a Health Educator Advisor because I want to increase my students' exposure to issues in health as well as open their eyes to the opportunities provided to them in the math and science fields. This experience will surely inspire and motivate my students, as they see the application of science in the real world. I also hope that through this partnership, my students and their families will gain the knowledge they need to become advocates for their own health.

Team (Gloria) STEINEM

Gaelle Gourmelon, MPH Candidate, Global Environmental Health
My personal interests lie in reconnecting people with nature to improve their developmental, physical, and psychological health.  Because people build relationships with nature at an early age, I would love to learn how to engage children. I have previously served as a Labs for Kids Science Mentor for fourth and fifth graders. I feel that this experience in the classroom will further prepare me to work in health education.

Amy Bryson, 6th grade science, McNair Middle School
I have two major passions in life - health and education - both spurred by a health and community study abroad trip around the world to India, China and South Africa. Post TFA, I will be pursuing my MPH at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health  in Health Education and Health Behavior. Beyond that it is my hope and intention to merge these two passions into a career – so why not start now with Classroom to Community!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Health Education in Action: A vision for school health transformation

TFA 2002 - Proud of my City Champion Debaters, Aida and Hilda
A little background: I was a Teach for America (TFA) corps member 12 years ago. I taught high school English, Drama, and Debate at Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago. Aside from being a mom, it was the best experience of my life.

I learned about public health about a year after I finished TFA. My husband was starting medical school, and while I was interested in adolescents and health, I don't deal well with bodily fluids, needles, or sick people. For me, the prevention focus in public health was perfect: a mix of theory and practice, with a focus on action. I had become a very passionate health educator.

So an MPH, a PhD, and several years of work experience later, I was still looking for ways to reconnect with the classroom, now through public health. It surprised me that in 21 years of existence, TFA had not had any large scale partnerships with any school of public health – especially since the second part of TFA’s mission is to have alumni working in sectors that directly impact education. At the same time I was seeking the connection from my work at Rollins, a group of health-focused corps members in Atlanta were seeking the same type of connection.

Enter ConnectEd4Health... We found each other and got to work right away! ConnectEd 4 Health is the first big partnership of TFA with public health, starting here in Atlanta. Here's what we do:
  1. Develop health resources for TFA corps members’ classrooms and schools. 
  2. Develop health education and intervention opportunities for Rollins students, staff, and faculty. 
  3. Create health-related professional development opportunities for TFA corps members. 
  4. Create public health career development opportunities for students of TFA corps members. 
  5. Develop health and education advocacy initiatives and skill-building opportunities for TFA corps members and Rollins students.
    To date, Classroom to Community is the largest initiative of our nascent collaboration. We've raised approximately $13,000 to support the program and look forward to using it to leverage additional funding in the future.

    So what is Classroom to Community? This class is designed to:
    1. Equip public health students with the knowledge and skills needed to become effective health educators and school health partners.
    2. Inspire a passion for teaching and a drive towards public health leadership.
    It's a mix of scholarship, observation, hands-on practice, and lots of reflection and discussion. We're basically teaching Rollins students how to teach using the same framework (Teaching as Leadership) as TFA, then putting them in the classroom to observe, teach, and be mentored by TFA teachers.

    It's going to be a great semester. We had 37 students apply for this program, including students from across Rollins (Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Global Health, Environmental Health, and others), a few alumni, and even students from the Candler School of Theology! In the end, we selected our top 15 students, then matched them with an all-star group of TFA teachers who also went through an application process. Throughout the semester, the students and their TFA partners will be posting on our class blog. We invite your thoughtful questions and comments to their posts.

    Tonight is our kick off event, and our first class session is next week. I'm really looking forward to the semester and the exciting things that will come from our new partnership!

    Many thanks to Rollins Career ServicesKristin Unzicker, and the Emory Office of University-Community Partnerships for making this class financially possible (not to mention the hard work and immense support of many others at Emory and TFA).

    Ariela Freedman, Course Instructor
    Assistant Research Professor
    Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
    Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University