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  • Shannan Johnson

Advisory Spotlight: Launching the Big Picture Living Challenge at North Bay Met Academy

2021 is going to be the year of Big Picture Living at the North Bay Met Academy Shannan Johnson and Diana Rudesill at North Bay Met Academy in Sonoma County, California are excited to work with their students on the path toward healthy living.

And as Shannon remarks the way to begin a Big Picture Living initiative in your school is to “Start with the challenge. The wellness within your community is all around you….capturing it will bring it life.”

Read on to learn more!

Q: Can you share a bit about your school/advisory?

North Bay Met Academy is a 6-12 independent study public school of choice located in the Windsor Unified School District in Sonoma County, California. We have four advisories in our daily attendance program and two advisories that support students in a traditional independent study program. My (Shannan Johnson’s) advisory is the latter in grades 9-12, though most students are seniors. Diana Rudesill is our Academic Counselor.

Q: We all have to start somewhere, how did your healthy living journey with students begin?

Shannan attended Big Bang Summerfest 2020 and was very inspired by Paul Hudak’s presentation on the work he was doing in health at Paramount and answered Elliot Washer’s call to help develop the app and website with students. While she is an avid gardener and cook, she has personally become extremely motivated to increase her own self care and has added more exercise and mindfulness in her own life and wanted to share with students. One of her advisory students became excited about helping create content for the website and joined the Big Picture Living Skunk Works team.

Diana is also a credentialed health education teacher who has had a passion for wellness for many years. She tries to put the theme of wellness behind all of her interactions with students and staff. Big Picture Living allows for her to incorporate this personal passion with her current role as an Academic Counselor. Together, we wish to improve school culture by incorporating the six measures of wellness into our advisory curriculum and improve student engagement. We have been including weekly affirmations in our student bulletin and will be promoting the #BPLivingChallenge school-wide.

Q: What worked and what didn’t?

Didn’t: Only one advisory has been working on the initiative specifically although each was doing work tangentially.

Works (now): More teachers and advisories participating and having a specific initiative to focus on. All of us agree on the importance of the six measures and their connection to student engagement and performance.

In Progress: Creating shared advisory curriculum to focus on the measures at the same time we hope will address the lack of time we all suffer from.

Works: We are a health conscious staff - two are fitness instructors, and the entire staff truly appreciates healthy living. Our staff culture has always revolved around sharing good food and taking care of our environment. We have a school garden in grape harvest tubs and have always celebrated First Friday of the month with a breakfast hosted by either staff or advisory. During distance learning it is “share a best bite” via Zoom. We can definitely grow the six measures into a central part of our school and advisory culture.

Q: Can you share a breakthrough/ aha moment?

Watching my student, Rileigh, become highly motivated to work with students from other schools and be incredibly excited about a project in the real world. And yesterday in my advisory, all of the students identified that they want to eat better as one of their goals for this year. Moving and mindfulness have been anchors for staff during the pandemic. We need to extend to the students. Those who have been incorporating the six measures into their lives have demonstrated great academic achievement and are happier and more positive.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a school looking to begin?

Start with the challenge. The wellness within your community is all around you ... capturing it will bring it life. Start with one or two agreed upon measures and put forth effort to bring it into your school culture. Involve the students. School gardens are not that hard. Introduce students to a new vegetable monthly. Set activity goals. Create personal wellness plans and incorporate them into each student’s (and advisor’s) learning plan.

Q: What’s in the works?

One of our students is interested in a career in fitness and just joined the Skunk Works team. He had some great ideas of movies that were instrumental in his decision to eat healthier. That could become a list on the site. Rileigh already contributed. We would like to add more recipes of healthy food to substitute for Taco Bell and In’NOut. Students want to learn how to create healthier meals that are simple and tasty. All of us need to move more and de-stress.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

I hope to get some of my students to share workout routines. I also would like to compile a recommended playlist of YouTube videos students like for mindfulness, yoga, weight training, calisthenics, cooking, and social health. I recently rewatched the PBS/KQED partnership Above the Noise on Sex Education in America. I wonder what the students are interested in exploring on the topic of sexual health?

If students don’t feel well in all of the six measures, their engagement and academic performance will not be optimal. This feels like it needs to be the core of advisory culture for us right now. Use the environment as a teacher in all aspects of health - mother nature has a lot to teach us.

Another important area to explore for our more suburban and rural schools are traditional indigenous foods and foraging. Learning about wild edible plants is a powerful tool for sustainable living. And now is the time to plant seeds and make plans for spring and summer gardens.


How is your school using the 6 measures? We would love to spotlight your advisory on our blog. Send an email to Isary at to learn more.

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