Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Good Life #health #happiness #school

Last year during our Spring Break, I visited several schools to learn what other great schools were doing to make school more AWESOME for kids. (You can read the entire post here.) I always get great ideas when I visit other schools, and more often than not, I find something that wasn't what I set out to look for in the first place. Our first stop was The Cove School.

When I visited Cove  in Larkspur, CA, I was mostly there to research their flexible learning spaces and Google-inspired furniture and design as part of designing our new school. My friend Eric Saibel had also mentioned that we should check out Cove In Motion, a start to their day with a focus on health and wellness as a school. You can check out the kids and Eric below getting fit and having fun. Just 15 minutes every day. It was amazing!
Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
Mrs. Fadeji in motion
A great way to start the day!

Inspired by The Cove School, Schools In Motion, and a TedX Talk by then 13-year-old Logan La Plante called "Hackschooling Makes Me Happy", we decided to "Dive In" to health and happiness as one of our key school-wide goals. Our focus on health and happiness encompasses several areas including mindfulness, fitness, and building positive relationships among our students, staff and families.

What does diving in to health and happiness look like at our school? We have started Star In Motion at our school and four days a week, we start the day with 15 minutes of movement, positive messages, and fun! Truly, that one visit on one day to see Cove in Motion has truly transformed our school. It's not by accident that the song that now starts our day together is The Good Life
Diving into health and happiness!

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3rd-5th Grades In Motion

What better way to start my day? 
And, every Wednesday is Workout Wednesday, where you'll find the whole school--teachers, kids, parents, and me wearing workout clothes and walking as a school outside to music. Usually you can spot some kids dancing with huge smiles on their faces! Some might say it's too casual- but we believe in modeling for our students and families. We're all in.

Walking on Workout Wednesday
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Kindergarten In Motion! Teachers, parents, and kids!
Workout Wednesday and the Whip Nae Nae-- here's Kindergarten and the 4th grade lunch!

Every once in awhile, amidst conversations around data, instruction, and the new CAASP test results and I wonder if I shouldn't be spending more time crunching numbers and spending less time focused on building a healthy and happy school. And then I look around and I notice that I'm spending most of my time in classrooms supporting teachers and kids because behavior problems have largely disappeared. Kids are happy. They love school. They run to get here in the morning! And we are receiving positive feedback from families, like this letter:

As a parent of two new Star Academy students I just wanted to thank you all for a fabulous start to the school year! They are more excited about school then I have ever seen them! When I pick them up each day they can't wait to tell me what they learned or to see if I know what their vocab words mean. Then after school [he] is showing me his blog with pride and [his brother] is practicing his piano with excitement. Each morning they have something to look forward to (Minecraft Club, Astronomy, Art, Spanish, a reading buddy, the list goes on and on!) 
Both of them are engaged, curious and proud of their new school. I sent this to all of you because its clear the entire campus culture is one of innovation and excitement about learning and walking through the halls anyone can feel it.

Kids are learning. Teachers are focused on instruction. Everyone is working hard and doing their best. And at the end of every day, if just one more child, one more parent, one more teacher can say...

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It will be worth it. Health and happiness. Every. Single. Day. 


  1. That makes me happy to see it all happening so positively for kids, parents, teachers, and admin!

  2. Here is the really cool thing about being a principal who sparkles. Glitter and fairy dust drift out, catching everyone nearby. That's how sparkle spreads. Tying academic success to health and happiness is amazing. Would that all schools could follow your lead, Jennifer Kloczko. You are an inspiration! I've said it before-- if I wasn't a retired old granny, I would give my eye teeth (luckily I still have them!) to be a part of your school!

    1. Love you, Marilyn! I learned much about sparkle and happiness that first year teaching with you! So happy we are still friends so many years later. I'd hire you in a heartbeat! Mwah!