Jackson program gets students eating, moving, and learning

Rick Wagner • Dec 13, 2015 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Students at Jackson Elementary don’t just sit in the gym waiting for classes to start these days.

The Morning Choice System, implemented in August for the 2015-16 school year, gives students physical activity, reading and teacher help in the morning as well as the option of a free breakfast.

Members of the Jackon’s Brave Council and physical education teacher Lindsay Statum gave the Board of Education a presentation on the program at the school board’s Dec. 3 meeting. They said research shows that the brain needs the right mindset for optimal learning to take place and that the brain isn’t ready to learn if students are stressed, hungry or thirsty, sleepy or anxious.

For instance, Statum said the opportunity for a free breakfast for all students has increased breakfast participation from 90 students each morning last year to about 300 this year.

After the optional breakfast, students have the opportunity for academic support and physical activity. The Morning Mile walk/run around the track provides a chance for students to get active, which research has shown produces neurons in the brain. And in the library students have the option to read books in a quiet environment.

Yet another option is yoga, with the idea that stretching the body also stretches the mind.

“Some students need that calming ritual,” Statum said of exercise and stretching, which create serotonin.

In the library, the offered activity is the Triple “T” homework help, with the goal of raising student proficiency through teaching using technology, reading texts and tutoring.

Krissy Turner is principal of Jackson, which recently received a $1,000 Good Sports Always Recycle award at halftime of the Tennessee-South Carolina game in Knoxville last month and was the first city school to participate in the “Rock and Wrap it Up” program to recycle unused but good cafeteria food. Last school year, Jackson recycled more than 1,000 pounds of food and drinks.

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