UA School of Social Work students participated in the SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching ALL Transforming Lives) wellness exercise at Reform Elementary School in April.

Over 1,000 colorful eggs were discovered in the sunshine on the playground at Reform Elementary School (RES) where the SMART Student Health and Wellness Team organized a school-wide event to connect with students in a fun environment in April.

Social Work students pose with SMART banner at Reform Elementary School
SMART Collaborating physician Dr. John Brandon, University of Alabama School of Social Work Interns with SMART, Candice Chandler and Kiana Winston, and SMART FNP, Marilyn Smith.

After the school’s designated quiet time from 8–10 a.m. April 18, the students were permitted to search for eggs on the RES playground complete with a kaleidoscope of Easter baskets and bunny ears. UA social work students Candice Chandler and Kiana Winston are interns with SMART and assisted with the egg hunt at Reform Elementary.

SMART Utilization Manager, Kim Taylor noted that while the SMART Team primarily connects with students in clinical environment, “It was good to be out in the sunshine and see the students smiling and having fun,” she said.

A key component of the SMART Student Health and Wellness Model is the “Whole-Child” approach, which means that the SMART Team aims to be fully integrated with the school. The SMART staff actively nurtures relationship-based connections with students, parents, faculty and staff to ensure wellness for all in the building, resulting in classroom success.

Pickens County College and Career Center Sophomore Teacher Cadets helped plan and facilitate the event as a part of their exploration of the teaching profession. Since the implementation of the SMART Clinic at RES in August of 2018, the school has seen a 55% drop in chronic
absenteeism, an attendance increase of 2.3%, a profound movement by educational standards, and learning gains of 144 points on Diagnostic Test Reports.

Ginn Group Consulting led the implementation of the new, rural flagship SMART Clinic with support from the University of Alabama and a significant financial commitment from CVS Health. The collaborative then worked with the Pickens County School Board and District
and RES Principal, Dr. Valerie Jackson, and were pleased to name the highly respected Pickens County Primary Care, owned by Dr. Julia Boothe, as their medical provider partner.

Multiple parties are working together toward the goal of sustaining SMART Student Health and Wellness Centers as a lasting partner within this school with continued support from CVS Health, Aramark, and the University of Alabama. The next steps involve direct communication with the State of Alabama Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey and his Chief of Staff, Dr. Jeffrey Langham.

About SMART

SMART (School Health Model for Academics Reaching ALL Transforming Lives) is a school health solution dedicated to improving academic achievement in order to break the cycle of poverty, creating a new, antecedent component on the health care continuum with Active Access and Active Care. The award-winning, public-private partnership that fuels the SMART Student Health and Wellness Model is revolutionizing the education sector’s advocacy in integrating physical, behavioral, social and emotional interventions as a normative partner to health care in
public schools. This best practice Model is being successfully operated in selected urban and rural regions, including Chicago and rural Alabama, with plans to expand to other cities over the next 5 years including Cleveland and Philadelphia.