Healthy Schools Academy

Well-Ahead Louisiana and the Louisiana Department of Education present the Healthy Schools Academy, a virtual professional development opportunity dedicated to improving student health and academic achievement.

Join us virtually on October 27!

Schools are the right place for a healthy start. Healthy students learn more effectively and are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores and complete their formal education. 

The virtual Healthy Schools Academy on Tuesday, October 27 is for any school or district employee who wants to better understand the link between learning and health. Participants will learn how to support healthy eating, physical activity, and chronic care management for the students they serve so that children develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to become healthy, successful adults.

Register Here


Everyone plays a role in supporting the whole child. This professional development opportunity is for any school or school district employee looking for ways to help students stay healthy and ready to learn, including classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, school nurses, counselors, electives teachers, administrators, coaches, physical education and health teachers, district leaders, directors and more. Take the lead in providing students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy behaviors that can help them establish lifelong healthy habits and avoid health risks.

Agenda and Session Descriptions

8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.


Session 1: Your Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Journey: From Implementation to Sustainability
9:00 A.M. - 9:55 A.M.

Speaker(s): Sean Slade, The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

This presentation, utilizing the ASCD & CDC Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC) as a frame, will highlight how schools and districts can embed health and wellbeing into their school improvement and community alignment processes. The session will outline the rationale for the WSCC Model and then showcase the range of tools, guides, surveys, and reports available via the dedicated free Whole Child Network platform. The Whole Child Network launched in Nov. 2019 has grown to over 1500 members across every state and 52 countries globally. It has been developed to help schools and districts grow their Whole Child approach and better align health and well-being into education.

9:55 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.


Session 2: School Wellness Committees 101
10:00 A.M. - 10:55 A.M.

Speaker(s): Donna Crawford, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The key to improving the health environment and practices in any school is a sustainable, engaged school wellness committee. A school wellness committee is an action-oriented group that focuses on the health and well-being of students, staff, and families in a school community. It only takes one school health champion to get started. This session will detail the roles and functions of school wellness committees and provide a step-by-step process for building an effective team using the free resources available from Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

10:55 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.


Session 3: Chronic Care Management for Students – Strategies for Schoolwide Support
11:00 A.M. - 11:55 A.M.

Speaker(s): Shelley Finnan, Tony Gonzales, Amanda Jackson, Denise Kerut, and Aaron Martin, Children's Hospital New Orleans

Studies show that certain chronic health conditions are strongly linked to student absenteeism, which is associated with lower academic achievement. However, many students with chronic health conditions can still achieve at a high level, especially when they have appropriate support at home, at school, and in their communities. During this session for both clinical and non-clinical school personnel, participants will learn strategies to support care for their students with chronic health conditions while promoting healthy behaviors, so students stay healthy and ready to learn. Participants will also learn about expanded support resources for student health that are available to schools through Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

11:55 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.


Session 4: Supporting Student Nutrition Beyond the Cafeteria
12:15 P.M. - 1:10 P.M.

Speaker(s): Patricia H. Farris and Joan E. Forcier Miller, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Classroom parties, school celebrations, and the way we reward positive behavior can all influence the development of a child’s relationship with food. A healthy school nutrition environment provides students with consistent and accurate messages about good nutrition and ways to learn about and practice healthy eating throughout the time children spend on school grounds. This lunchtime session will engage participants to consider practices that reinforce – not contradict – healthy eating behaviors. This session will provide 1 hour of continuing education for USDA professional standards under learning code 1210.

1:10 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.


Session 5: Moving Right Along: How to Boost Physical Activity for Students
1:15 P.M. - 2:10 P.M.

Speaker(s): Joanna Faerber and Christina Courtney, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is important for promoting lifelong health and preventing various health conditions. Schools are in a unique position to help students attain the nationally recommended 60 minutes or more of daily physical activity during recess, in the classroom, and before and after school. School staff in any role can implement the strategies demonstrated in this presentation to create environments that invite students to get moving throughout the school day.

2:10 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.



Participants will learn from a range of professionals on how to establish a healthy school environment. Check out the list of speakers below.

Speaker Bios

Christina Courtney, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Christina Courtney graduated from LSU with a bachelor's and master’s degree in Kinesiology. She a National Board Certified teacher in early and middle childhood physical education. She has taught for 15 years at University Laboratory School, teaching Kindergarten through 12th grade physical education. She has been an active member of the LAHPERD organization, serving as the Vice President of several divisions while also being the Mini Grant Coordinator. She has won several awards through LAHPERD including Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2015. Mrs. Courtney has been presenting to physical educators across the great state of Louisiana and country for over 9 years with organizations such as Tour De Fitness, Well-Ahead Louisiana, and is also an OPEN National Trainer.

Donna Crawford, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Donna K. Crawford is the Associate Director for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation) Healthy Schools Program serving Tennessee and Arkansas. Since 2008, Donna has guided nearly 400 schools and their stakeholders (district and school-level health leaders) through the process of creating and sustaining a healthier environment so our children can live healthier, longer lives.  Under Donna’ tutelage, over eighty schools have received national Alliance recognition for their outstanding nutrition and physical educational efforts.  Through collaborations and partnerships, over one-half million children have been impacted by her work. In addition to her duties managing the Healthy Schools Program, Donna is a Co-Leader of the internal, volunteer Culture Workgroup and a liaison for Healthier Generation’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion efforts funded by the RWJF. Donna has received many accolades including: Shelby County Schools -  Outstanding Community Partner Visionary Award, 2017; Jackson-Madison County Schools, School Board – Outstanding Service, 2014; Memphis City Schools, Coordinated School Health – Outstanding Service, 2012, 2013; American Heart Association, Rome Betts National Award – Cultural Initiatives, 2004; and Memphis Woman Magazine – 50 Women Who Make a Difference, 2003.

Joanna Faerber, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Joanna Faerber is a National Board-Certified Teacher and the recipient of the 2009 AAHPERD National NASPE Elementary PE, Southern District, and Louisiana Teacher of the Year. Joanna taught physical education at Louisiana State University Laboratory School in Baton Rouge for over 30 years.  Currently, Joanna works with Eat Move Grow through a federal grant that services rural schools in delta parishes of Louisiana.  She has served multiple leadership roles with LAHPERD, Southern District, and SHAPE America. Joanna is an OPEN National Trainer, Master Trainer for the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP), and Champion Ambassador for the NFL Play 60.

Patricia H. Farris, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Pat is a licensed, registered dietitian with 40 years of experience serving the children of Louisiana.  She is the former Child Nutrition Director for the St. Tammany Parish Public Schools and Archdiocese of New Orleans. 

She was active with national, state, and local professional associations as evidenced by numerous elected and appointed board positions.  Some of her honors include School Nutrition Association of Louisiana (SNAL) Director of the Year (2018) and International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s Silver Plate Operator of the Year (2008).  While in St. Tammany, Pat was awarded more Healthier US School Challenge Gold Awards of Distinction by USDA than any district in the country.  These awards were recognized by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, resulting in a school visit and invitation to a White House reception in 2010. 

Since her retirement, Pat has enjoyed teaching nutrition classes at Southeastern Louisiana University and being part of the Louisiana Healthy School Training Krewe. 

Tony Gonzales, MD, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

With over 15 years of experience in pediatric orthopedic surgery, Dr. Gonzales leads the organization’s orthopedics service line and School Wellness Program. He also partners closely with the LCMC Health sports trainers who serve a number of schools in Southeastern Louisiana. His family has always emphasized the importance of education and schools in the community, and his mother, an educator for 30 years, taught him the deep impact teachers, school nurses, and school staff have on children. As a result, he is extremely passionate about supporting the physical, social, and behavioral concerns of the pediatric community, and those who care for them within both the educational and healthcare settings. His in-laws have strong ties to Acadiana and contribute to his passion for Louisiana students.  He received his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham and completed his residency training at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami in Florida. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr Gonzales is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. 

Amanda Jackson, MD, FAAP, FABPM, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Dr. Jackson joined Children’s Hospital in 2019 and oversees clinical operations at our growing number of pediatrics locations across the Greater New Orleans Area as well as our Virtual Care Program which spans the state. Prior to her work at Children’s Hospital, she practiced pediatrics for 14 years. She also previously worked in a clinical operations role as Associate Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Ochsner Health System. Her goal is to prioritize what is best for the patient in every single situation and ensure progressive, efficient solutions to challenges the pediatric healthcare community may encounter, whether it involves patients, clinicians, or any role caring for children. A New Orleans native, Dr. Jackson earned her medical degree from LSU Health New Orleans and completed her pediatric residency training at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia where she served as Chief Resident.

Denise Kerut, MD, FAAP, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Dr. Kerut is a primary care pediatrician with Children’s Hospital whose practice supports school-based virtual care and other school wellness initiatives. She particularly enjoys serving foster care children and helping patients conveniently access the health care that they need through virtual care. She spends much time making school nurses and non-clinical personnel who provide medical care to students feel comfortable and confident about leveraging Children’s Hospital’s virtual resources. Dr. Kerut earned her medical degree from LSU Health New Orleans and completed her pediatric residency at Charity Hospital and Children’s Hospital New Orleans. She is also board certified in pediatrics.

Shelley Finnan Lopez, MHA, BSN, RN-BC, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Mrs. Lopez has been a Louisiana Registered Nurse for over 24 years, working in the Ambulatory setting for the last 12 years. She has been with Children’s Hospital for over 17 years and is responsible for clinical excellence of the outpatient staff at more than 20 clinical locations. She is passionate about new hire onboarding, nursing professional advancement, and the promotion of outpatient health care services for the children of Louisiana. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Holy Cross and her Masters in Health Administration from LSU-Shreveport. She also holds National Certification in pediatrics.

Aaron Martin, MD, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Dr. Aaron Martin is a pediatric urologist whose drive and focus to expand virtual care for the children of Louisiana over the last 7 years has led to a widely accessible and expansive virtual care platform at Children’s Hospital. He strives to make healthcare more convenient for all his patients and their families, who he greatly values building trusting relationships with to help treat sensitive urologic issues. He earned his medical degree from LSU Health New Orleans and completed a urology residency training at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, and a pediatric urology fellowship at Children’s National in Washington, D.C. Certified by the American Board of Urology, Dr. Martin sees patients across the state of Louisiana.

Joan E. Forcier Miller, Healthy Schools Training Krewe

Joannie Miller is an Independent Consultant/Trainer with the Institute of Child Nutrition; a School Health Trainer with the Louisiana Department of Education, Healthy Schools Training Krewe; and an Independent Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Consultant/Trainer.  She formerly retired as a CNP Director of twenty-seven years and five years as a CNP Administrative Review Auditor for state and federal compliance.  She has her Masters from the University of Southern Mississippi in Institution Management/Foods and Nutrition and began her career in Child Nutrition as a Research Associate for LSU Medical Center/Bogalusa Heart Study.  Her outstanding expertise is demonstrated by USDA Healthier US School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms Gold Award of Distinction and School Nutrition Association of Louisiana (SNAL) Director of the Year.  These awards were recognized by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, resulting in an invitation to a White House reception in 2010.  Joannie has been the Public Policy and Legislative Chair for the SNAL for six years. She enjoys visiting Washington and staying in touch with State Legislators and Congressmen as she is passionate about advocating for Child Nutrition.  With thirty-eight years of CNP professional experience, Joannie has demonstrated a history of passionate, personable, and an encouraging attitude when guiding staff, students, and clients to healthy eating, physical exercise, and promoting excellence.  She enjoys her grandchildren, traveling, and working in her yard.

Sean Slade, The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Sean Slade is the Senior Director of Global Outreach at ASCD, where he leads the promotion and expansion of ASCD’s Whole Child approach and mission. During his three decades in education, spanning 5 countries and 4 continents, he has spoken and written extensively on topics related to the whole child, health, well-being, school climate, and the promotion of ecosystemic approach to education systems reform.

In 2014 he led the development and launch of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC) in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) which has become the preeminent school health model used across the US, and a driving framework for the alignment and integration of health and education.

He is a Social & Emotional Learning expert for NBC Education Nation and NBC Parent Toolkit, former VP for Advocacy at the International Union for Health Promotion & Education (North America), member of the OECD 2030 Future of Education & Skills Task Force, and founding member of the UNESCO Chair on Global Health & Education.  He has written for the Washington Post, Huffington Post, EdWeek, and ASCD's Inservice blog and has published with ASCD, Routledge, Abingdon Press, and Human Kinetics.