North Reading Works With American Academy of Pediatrics to Improve Students' Health
North Reading Public School District is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on a project to improve the quality of health services offered in local schools. The AAP’s Enhancing School Health
Services through Training, Education, Assistance, Mentorship and Support (TEAMS) project offers training, resources and technical assistance to school districts that are working to strengthen their policies and practices related to school health services.
As part of the TEAMS project, Penny Kulakowski RN, School Nurse for the North Reading Middle School has teamed up with Sue Swansburg RN, Public Health Nurse for North Reading and Laurie Witts MD, North Reading School Physician to review existing health services in the district and identify and implement needed improvements.
“School health services are critical to ensuring that students are in the best possible position to learn,” said Laurie Witts. “The TEAMS project will help us to accomplish three things: increase the visibility of the School Health Program, establish school health priorities, and support integrated efforts to achieve our goals.
In November, Penny, Laurie, and Sue traveled to AAP headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill., for a workshop to assess student health needs in North Reading, prioritize top health services issues to address, and develop improvement strategies. North Reading’s health services currently provides education, counseling, medication
administration, chronic disease management, screenings (vision, scoliosis, BMI), and evaluation of acute conditions.
However, we are looking to become more coordinated across schools and to improve our connections with families, community medical providers, and each other.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our district to better meet the needs of our students,” said Kathleen Willis, Superintendent of Schools, “and it demonstrates the
dedication of our district’s nurses to keeping our children healthy, safe, and ready to learn.”
Through the TEAMS project, the AAP is providing 10 school districts in Massachusetts and Arkansas with training
through in-person workshops, webinars, individualized coaching, and other resources. School districts commit to participate in the program for a minimum of two years and may participate for up to four years. North Reading’s application to participate in the TEAMS project was selected, in part, based on the strength of the district’s health services leadership.
In future years, an additional 25 districts from around the country will be selected to participate in the project, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention School Health Branch.
“The TEAMS participants are positioned to make great
strides toward improving student health and reducing health-related barriers to learning in their districts. Their work will serve as a model for other districts seeking to strengthen their health services,” said Linda Grant, MD,
MPH, FAAP, of the TEAMS Project Steering Committee.
Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated
to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and
young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.