Extension educator serves as La Grande School District health coordinator as part of CDC Healthy Schools grant

Robin Maille (left), associate professor of practice with the Oregon State University Extension Service Family and Community Health Program; and Scott Carpenter, assistant superintendent for the La Grande School District, work together to work together to communicate with district staff and strategize about how to complete the project objectives.

Through its Child Nutrition Programs, the Oregon Department of Education selected the La Grande School District as the only school district in Oregon to be funded as part of a five-year cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled, School-based Interventions to Promote Equity and Improve Health, Academic Achievement and Well-Being of Students. Due to her experience with nutrition and wellness programming, the school district invited Robin Maille, associate professor of practice with the Oregon State University Extension Service Family and Community Health Program, to serve as the district school health coordinator for this cooperative agreement.

The first step of the cooperative agreement is to complete the 11-module CDC School Health Index Assessment which aligns with the CDC Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model. As of December 2023, six of the modules were completed in three meetings that involved school administrators, school nurses, food service management, after-school and public health partners, teachers, and parents. Twenty-seven individuals participated in the sessions.

While this project is in its early stages, the meetings provided insight into the important programs that already exist in the district and the need to communicate this to students and families. School-based health services have expanded greatly over the last few years to include mental health and behavioral health therapists at both elementary and secondary schools. Increased communication about these programs will help reduce barriers for students and families to access health care. Action planning started in January.

In addition to OSU Extension, the project is supported by a CDC project officer, an evaluator, and a statewide advisory team comprised of members from the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Health Authority, and OregonASK, an after-school and summer-for-kids network as well as a broader Oregon Healthy Schools Advisory team.

Six national non-governmental organizations are also providing support in the priority areas of school health services, emotional well-being, healthy out-of-school time, and school administrator support and action for healthy schools.