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Tyler ISD adds position to help prioritize physical and nutritional health of staff

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler ISD management has seen the effects it was having on staff, both physically and mentally. They came together to find ways to give back to the staff. The ideas started as small challenges on each campus and have since grown into a district-wide initiative.

This year, the district hired Kristin Parker as the Physical and Nutritional Health Coordinator. Parker has been in education for 20 years and with TISD for 16 years. In this role, she said her job is to connect employees to different local resources, such as gyms, healthier food options, and even bringing workouts to schools after hours.

“Nutrition and fitness are very individualized, so I have to figure out what works for each person. My job is to find and meet with 2,600 different employees and figure out how to meet the needs of those employees,” Parker said.

Rachel Barber is the district health services manager and said they realized they had to do something and their ideas evolved. Each month there is a new theme for the staff to focus on.

“In May it was bliss, then we focused on sleep, then this month we focused on resilience and meditation,” Barber said. “So every month you are given special activities that you can even participate in and learn from, videos about, it gives you practices that you can incorporate into your daily life.”

For anatomy and physiology professor Stephen Niedrauer, the challenges motivated him to work beyond what he normally would.

“I ate healthy, I exercised, I went to the gym, but because it’s actually counting my steps and comparing myself to others, instead of walking maybe two miles, I will go, I I need an extra 2,000 points or 200 points and so I’ll walk a three-mile march,” Niedrauer said.

Staff and teachers log activity in an app and can see where they rank against others. Parker said teachers are often so focused on student achievement that they forget about themselves.

“Every time I go to a school, I ask them the question: ‘How can you take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself?’ That’s why we give them all these resources, because we want them to be in school every day, we want them to be healthier, we want them to take care of themselves and prioritize themselves,” Parker said.

They plan to post meal prep videos on social media, bring fitness classes and resources to campus, offer discounted memberships at select locations, and more as the program unfolds. expands.