Tyler ISD adds position to help prioritize staff physical, nutritional health

This year the district brought on Kristin Parker as the physical and nutritional health coordinator. Parker has been in education for 20 years and with TISD for
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:59 PM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Following the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership at Tyler ISD saw the effects the it had on staff, both physically and mentally. They got together to figure out ways they could give back to staff. Ideas started as small challenges on each campus and have since turned into a district-wide initiative.

This year the district brought on Kristin Parker as the physical and nutritional health coordinator. Parker has been in education for 20 years and with TISD for 16. In this role she said it’s her job to connect employees to different local resources, such as gyms, healthier food options, and even bring in workouts to schools after hours.

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

Rachel Barber is the director of health services for the district and said they realized they needed to do something and their ideas have been evolving. Each month there is a new theme that staff focus on.

“In May it was happiness, and then we focused on sleep, and then this month we are focused on resiliency and meditation,” Barber said. “So each month you’re given some special activities that you can even go in and learn, some videos on, it gives you some practices that you can incorporate into your daily life.”

For Anatomy and Physiology teacher Stephen Niedrauer, the challenges have motivated him to work beyond what he normally would.

“I was eating healthy, I was exercising, I was going to the gym but because it’s actually counting my steps and comparing me to others, instead of maybe walking a two-mile walk, I’ll go, I need another 2,000 points or 200 points and so I’ll walk a three-mile walk,” Niedrauer said.

Staff and teachers log activity in an app and can see where they rank with others. Parker said oftentimes teachers are so focused on successful student outcomes, they forget about themselves.

“My question to them every time I go into a school is, ‘how can you take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself?’ So that’s why we’re feeding them all of these resources, because we want them in school everyday, we want them to be healthier, we want them to take care of themselves and put themselves as a priority,” Parker said.

They plan to release meal preparation videos on social media, bring in fitness classes and resources to campus, offer discounted memberships to some places, and more as the program grows.