For Immediate Release: April 15, 2016
AtlantiCare Healthy Schools, Healthy Children recognized Healthy Educator Award winners during a dinner in their honor on April 13 at the Atlantic City Country Club.
AtlantiCare presented Healthy Educator awards to Carrie Merritt, of Marmora, first-grade teacher, Ocean City Primary School; and Julie Land, of Mays Landing, health and physical education teacher, Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City. The award recognizes educators' outstanding efforts to promote wellness, healthy living, good nutrition, and the importance of physical activity to their students and colleagues.
Finalists recognized at the event included Cheryl Cottelli, of Egg Harbor Township; Melissa Newhall, of Absecon; Sharon Rementer, of Lower Township; and Marguerite Tomasello, of Mullica Township.
Receiving honorable mentions were Cynthia Anderson, of Egg Harbor Township; Kim Saparito-Austin, of Marmora; Liesje Cooker, of Brigantine; Eric Flecken, of Blackwood; and Deborah Taliaferro, of Atlantic City.
"These amazing individuals have shared their enthusiasm and passion for health and wellness with their students and co-workers with the ultimate goal of creating and sustaining a healthier school environment for all, and we are proud to recognize them," said Laura Engelmann, MHA, community health and wellness manager, AtlantiCare. "We know that individuals who establish healthy habits as children are more likely to maintain them as adults. These teachers are helping their students build healthy lifestyles now and into the future."
AtlantiCare presented each awardee with a cash prize and will make a matching donation in each winner's name to his or her school's health and wellness programs.
About AtlantiCare Health Schools, Healthy Children's Healthy Educator Awards
The AtlantiCare Healthy Educator Award recognizes educators' outstanding efforts to promote wellness, healthy living, good nutrition, and the importance of physical activity with their students and colleagues. AtlantiCare selected winners based on nominations from their colleagues and participation with AtlantiCare Healthy Schools, Healthy Children initiative. Through its partnership with schools in Atlantic, Cape May and Southern Ocean counties, AtlantiCare assists schools and districts with the implementation of fitness and nutrition policies and makes resources available to students, their families and school staff.
Carrie Merritt, of Marmora, first-grade teacher, Ocean City Primary School, brings a positive attitude, energy, and passion for health and wellness to the classroom. She initiated "Get the Gray Matter Going" breaks where students exercise or practice mindfulness. The breaks help to stimulate students' brains as they transition between learning activities. She engages her students in fitness by having them research and report on the benefits of cardiovascular and strength training activities. She assists students in developing multi-dimensional workout plans and completing workout logs. Merritt encourages students' families to be involved in physical activity as well, assigning "Weekend Workout Homework," which asks students and their families to engage in healthful activities such as going to a local park, completing a strength training set, or taking a jog around the block.
Julie Land, of Mays Landing, health and physical education teacher, Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City, models good health to her students, coworkers and her community by leading an active lifestyle. She often participates in 5K races, obstacle courses, biking and yoga; and has also organized student/teacher teams to participate in races.
At the Texas Avenue School, Land advocates for wellness options and programming, including the purchase of playground equipment, which provides students more options to stay active at recess. She also leads monthly taste testings during lunch periods encouraging students to step out of their comfort zones and try new, healthy foods. She works closely with teachers to create physical education lessons that compliment the classroom, and with the food service management and staff to ensure healthy offerings during school breakfast, lunch and dinner programs. She has also developed a staff wellness committee to encourage her colleagues to institute healthy practices in nutrition and exercise, not just with students but also within their own personal lives.
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AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,400 employees and more than 700 physicians serve the community in nearly 70 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare's Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.