“Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners” is one of the pathways of the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, and Colchester School District takes it very seriously.
Accordingly, we are very pleased to announce that Colchester community member Jaycie Puttlitz has assumed the helm of the district’s wellness program as our wellness coordinator!
Ms. Puttlitz has long been an active member of our school community and the larger Colchester community. She serves on the board of the Colchester Youth Soccer Club, she is the Four Winds Nature Institute coordinator at Porters Point School (to read about Four Winds in our schools, please click here), and is a registered yoga instructor, teaching adults and children in Colchester. This mother of two also volunteers and substitute teaches at Porters Point School and Malletts Bay School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in administration from St. Michael’s College. She most recently served as a marketing and communications manager at IBM until 2008.
Ms. Puttlitz participated in the 2011 Colchester School District Vision Summit as part of the development of the aforementioned Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, of which wellness initiatives are a significant component. “In that plan, wellness is highlighted with its own pathway to consider the importance of the whole person, particularly the wellness qualities of physical, nutritional, and community health. As the district’s wellness coordinator, I am committed to advocating this wellness vision,” she said. “I plan to identify and offer opportunities for staff and students to understand and address their total portrait of health, including physical fitness, nutritional needs, safety, and mental attitude. As they develop healthier habits, I’d like to encourage them to share successful motivators, tips, and ideas that help them achieve their goals among the school and community.”
Ms. Puttlitz plans to expand upon the accomplishments of the district’s former wellness coordinator, Connie Gavin. “Already, our school district has much to be proud of with the local food partnerships, farm and cooking programs, and interest in sports and physical fitness. I was aware that Colchester has many strong student sports teams, but I was amazed to learn that thirty-three members of the district’s staff ran in the Vermont City Marathon last spring,” she said. “I would also like to see more inspiring activities, such as Jump with Jill, and I am sure there are more local community members who have knowledge or experience in wellness to share with our staff and students.
“Most importantly, I want staff and students to become involved. Our schools had many successes last year; Porters Point School involved the whole school in snack planning and preparation, the middle school competed in Jr. Iron Chef Vermont event, the smoothie bar was implemented across the district with a student recipe challenge kickoff, and schools are finding ways to garden on-site. Teaching kids good nutrition and becoming familiar with food preparation firsthand is the best way to encourage healthy habits. I will be looking for more of these hands-on learning opportunities for all and kicking off our thirty-day wellness challenges in the next few months.”
In explaining why wellness is so important, she said, “I believe that decisions individuals make regarding their physical and mental health should be the most important decisions they make—and it is easier when they have the necessary knowledge and develop good habits. Taking care of yourself comes first; then you have the strength and ability to help others. On a larger scale, the well-being of staff and students in the Colchester schools is very important to me because I live here and my children are just starting their educational journey. The school district contains important people in my community who teach—and attend school with—my family. Providing education and resources to prevent injuries and illness and to increase their endurance for life strengthens the wellness of our community as a whole.”
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