Advisor Spotlight: Healthy Living Takes Root at Odyssey STEM Academy
“I consider each of the 6 BP Living Measures to be a branch from the trunk of our existing teaching. The roots of each of these measures are intertwined with each other and shares a growing medium with our environmental work. We talk so much in class about what it means to be a steward of the earth. These measures are about stewarding ourselves to the best of our ability.” explains Paul Hudak, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at Odyssey STEM Academy in Lakewood, California.
We connected with Paul to learn more about how the Big Picture Living program is working in his school and to share ideas on how to start.
Read on to learn more!
Q: Can you share a bit about your school/advisory?
My role at Odyssey STEM Academy is that of the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator; it varies slightly from that of other advisors. Instead of working with a particular cohort I work with all 140 10th grade scholars.
The primary objective of our class is to work across studios (Humanities and STEM/Science) on trimester-long projects that focus on a large environmental topic of each scholar's choosing. While there is always an overarching theme (Water, Food, Progress, Activism, Climate Change, etc.) the actual project focus and exhibition of evidence is chosen and driven by the individual scholar.
Q: We all have to start somewhere, how did your healthy living journey with students begin?
Even though my primary teaching focus is around Environmentalism, I consider each of the 6 BP Living Measures to be a branch from the trunk of our existing teaching. The roots of each of these measures are intertwined with each other and shares a growing medium with our environmental work. We talk so much in class about what it means to be a steward of the earth. These measures are about stewarding ourselves to the best of our ability.
When we are our best selves, we are more effective at stewarding others - whether it be the planet, our peers, our families or those we come into contact with. We do a significant amount of work around food in this program. Constantly striving to assess our own personal food choices with an understanding of how they not only affect our bodies but also the planet.
Q: What worked and what didn’t?
Odyssey is the third school I've had the pleasure of working with to directly establish this type of program. The best advice I can give for those starting a program is to nurture district relationships. I view these as crucial to building a strong foundation for a meaningful program. The most important relationships I have witnessed are those formed with the different departments of a school district.
Having support from a district's Nutrition Services department has been essential in helping to push forward conversations around school-lunch reform. I've seen districts help champion these movements and support students in forwarding their mission to create healthier options. In terms of the nuts-and-bolts for creating school gardens, I've had the good fortune of working with very supportive Facilities and Operations departments in different districts.
Being clear and transparent about how the program hopes to serve the students has always been the most effective approach. With some of the 6 measures I anticipate that once we are back to in-person instruction, these departments will be supporting us with changes to the campus.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a school looking to begin?
In addition to nurturing the important relationships at the district level my best advice would be to empower your students to dream big here. They are the ones who will drive this movement in directions that advisors could never imagine. Giving them the space in class to research, dream and design are super important. Then providing them with the resources to put their ideas into play are the next step. The fact that students already have an international network of peers in place will keep the inspiration fires burning and spreading to great heights.
How is your school using the 6 measures? We would love to spotlight your advisory on our blog. Send an email to Isary at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.