Employee Health Matters in Oregon Schools and school employee wellness is not just a fringe benefit. It’s essential to achieving the primary goal of education-to ensure student academic success. A healthy school staff reduces costs and stress. It also increases productivity at a time when schools are under enormous pressure to do more with less. School employees make up a large percentage of Oregon’s workforce, and they play an enormous role in their students’ lives. While under the care of educators and other staff, children learn life skills that help them become successful, productive and healthy community members. “When teachers are healthy and on their game every day, we are more effective at achieving our educational goals and promoting student success” Barry Nemec, Special Education Director, Baker School District. There is a clear need for employee wellness in Oregon schools.
The 2011 Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Survey for School Employees showed that:
- 56% of school staff are overweight or obese.
- Only 30% eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables
- 90% are trying to maintain or lose weight
- 5% currently smoke
- 13% reported current depression
“If we have healthier educators working with our students, we’re becoming true role models,” said Gail Rasmussen, president of the Oregon Education Association. “We’re helping our students understand that it’s important to be responsible for our lifestyle early on, rather than waiting until we find ourselves with some health condition we could have avoided.”