Magic Happens When a Teacher Supports the HealthCorps Curriculum
Recently, Victoria Lyon, a coordinator at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, CA, shared the following story and observations with her HealthCorps Regional Director, Rose Borillo:
A HealthCorps coordinator’s dream is to have a teacher create assignments based on the health-related subject matter. At Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, California, this dream is a reality. English teacher Esteban Varelas worked with HealthCorps Coordinator Victoria Lyon to teach a lesson on processed food, highlighting Jamie Oliver’s work on Pink Slime. Because students were so interested in the topic, Mr. Varelas has created an entire unit on Pink Slime. Students learn annotating skills while reading articles on Pink Slime, and then they learn letter-writing skills by writing Jamie Oliver appreciation letters for his hard work, spreading awareness to the general public. The lessons Mr. Varelas creates incorporate many common core standards in English language arts, including: researching skills, citing strong textual evidence from texts students have read or videos they’ve watched, participation in collaborative discussions, and the practice of giving formal presentations.
Through Victoria Lyon’s role as a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador, she was able to personally deliver the students’ letters to Mr. Oliver when he was in Sacramento to advocate with the California Endowment. Mr. Varelas serves as a model teacher for all of the schools that are transitioning from the Living Labs model to the HealthCorps University (HCU) model. Teachers can easily incorporate health topics into their curriculum to meet Common Core objectives.
Mr. Varelas believes that the core concepts taught by Victoria in the health class are critical to the education of his special education students. He believes that the topics she covers teach his students to advocate for themselves to live healthy, social and productive lives. The topics, ranging from nutrition to bullying, help students learn concepts they may not be accessing anywhere else. With Victoria’s expertise in the subject, and the knowledge Mr. Varelas incorporates into lessons, through modifications and accommodations to support his special education students, the outcome is powerful. He suggests that his students need as much support and reinforcement as they can get when it comes to healthy life choices, whether it is based in physical health and nutrition or focused on social skills and emotional regulation (which Victoria has covered in her health classes). Mr. Varelas contends that the information learned in the health lessons really assists his students in transitioning from high school to adult life, an important part of special education in high school.
HealthCorps gives a special shout out to Mr. Varelas and to Coordinator Victoria for working together to promote healthy learning for these special students!
You can see Victoria Lyon and more Coordinators in HealthCorps’ YouTube playlist “HealthCorps: A Day in the Life of a Coordinator “:
-Amy Hendel, PA/HealthCoach