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Annual Institute

Oklahoma's Path Forward: Promoting Academics through Health

June 6 & 7 OKC | June 8 & 9 Tulsa

In order to foster continued understanding, development, and support for state-wide implementation of The Oklahoma Health Education Act, this institute will offer an opportunity to learn how to integrate Skills-Based Health Education into the school environment and work towards supporting healthy students.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), the Tulsa County Health Department (TCCHD) and the Cherokee Nation are excited to offer an opportunity for PK-12 schools and their community partners to participate in this professional development event.

By the end of the institute participants will:

  • Describe instructional strategies to engage students in Skills-Based Health Education
  • Form actions focused on the implementation of Skills-Based Health Education in 2023-2024.
  • Apply components of Family Engagement, Physical Activity/Physical Education and Counseling/Psychological and Social Services to their School Setting.

Event Agenda

  • June 6 & 7 | OKC 
    • Metro Technology Center
    • 1900 Springlake Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
  • June 8 & 9 | Tulsa
    • Oklahoma State University Tandy Medical Building 
    • 1111 W. 17th St. Tulsa, OK 74107

Day 2 OKC, DAY 1 Tulsa  


Meaningful Coordination for Sustained Outcomes

Sarah Benes, EdD, MPH, CHES and Holly Alperin, EdM, MCHES

In this keynote session, participants will consider their role within the complex dynamic of supporting the health and well-being of young people in a school-setting and the role that health and well-being plays in student experience and academic success. Participants will reflect upon the intersection of school, family, and community partnerships as a means of ensuring that young people are supported, engaged and prepared for the future.

10:15-10:30 Break

Skills-Based Health Education: A Primer

Sarah Benes, EdD, MPH, CHES and Holly Alperin, EdM, MCHES

In this session, participants will be introduced to a skills-based approach to health education, and explore how a skills-based approach intersects with and supports other learning happening throughout the school building.

11:45-1:00 Lunch on your own

What’s Skill Got To Do With It?

Sarah Benes, EdD, MPH, CHES and Holly Alperin, EdM, MCHES

In this session, participants will dig into the skills of the National Health Education Standards as an opportunity to support skill development in various settings.

2:15-2:30 Break

Active Classroom Engagement to Support Effective Instruction

Sarah Benes, EdD, MPH, CHES and Holly Alperin, EdM, MCHES

In this session, participants will learn and discuss a variety of strategies, based on learning theory and neuroscience, to engage all learners. Participants will have the opportunity to experience some of these strategies and discuss how these approaches support students’ learning experience, knowledge acquisition and skill development.

Day 1 OKC, DAY 2 Tulsa  

Breakout Sessions

Healthy Schools Oklahoma - Family Engagement Strategies
Kym Hardin – Healthy Schools Oklahoma

Come learn effective strategies to get your families engaged in your health and physical education programs.  From math and reading night ideas to health fairs, we will talk about how to incorporate physical education and health during these events!

Jumpstart Your Classroom
Dr. Lauren Loucks – University of Central Oklahoma

Are you looking for ways to unite academics and movement? This session aims to provide you with movement activities that will assist you with teaching or reviewing a variety of academic topics. Participants will take part in movement activities that can be done in the classroom, gym, or an outdoor space. Attend this session to remember how much fun learning can be when students are able to move as they learn.

Classroom Management Strategies to Address Behaviors in the Classroom
Christy Hicks & Brenda Chapman – Oklahoma State Department of Education

Participants will understand how to develop classroom norms, rules, expectations, and structures to support effective classroom management and student behavior. Participants will also learn how our brain regulates behavior and how to use that information to promote learning.

10:15-10:30 Break

Breakout Sessions

The Power of Afterschool
Jahaziel Hiriart - The Opportunity Project

Research suggests that afterschool and summer learning programs can have a positive influence on young people under the right conditions. Studies of afterschool and summer programs have demonstrated a number of positive outcomes: increased engagement in school, improved school-day attendance, fewer unexcused absences, fewer disciplinary referrals, improved academic performance, and fewer behavior problems. This session offers a potential pathway to understanding how learning and development happen in quality afterschool and summer programs. We'll unpack what we know about the impact of expanded learning programming, the power of partnerships and the after school landscape in Oklahoma.

Therapy Dogs Within Schools
Kelli Baker- (Kalani's Handler), Becky Alexander, Lisa Merrill ( Shadow's Handler) – Morris Public Schools

For this session we bring Kalani and Shadow with us and present on not only the benefits, but how we were able to implement a program without any cost to our district from start to finish. We provide our policy, strategies for classroom implementation, ways to utilize the dogs in different settings, the steps of training, fundraising, community involvement, full therapy dog certification and what a typical day looks like with our dogs within the schools. We also provide data that was analyzed on our behalf by the OSDE school counseling on the growths we have seen within our students and staff.

OPEN up your PE and Recess Possibilities!
Kym Hardin - OPEN National Trainer

Heard of OPEN Phys Ed but not sure of all the content and information they provide?   Are you looking for ways to improve physical activity during indoor recess days?  Come learn easy activities OPEN Phys Ed offers and learn how to navigate the website with ease!

11:45-1:00 Lunch on your own

Breakout Sessions

Health Education Standards & Framework Project
Shana Classen, Ianthi Shields, and Virginia Mitchell – Oklahoma State Department of Education

In this presentation, participants will examine the new standards and the resources to help with the implementation of the Health Education Act.

Safe Routes to School
Lacey Wallace and Doug Walton – Oklahoma State University – HOP Program

Learn how to coordinate with Community Leaders to create safe routes for students to walk, bike, roll or stroll to school.

Students Leading Healthy Lives
Kelli Baker- elem. counselor;  Whitney Tucker- elem. PE teacher – Morris Public Schools

In our presentation we will show the ways that collaborations between school counselors and physical health teachers can benefit students and schools as a whole. Discussions will include the creation of Family Fun Nights that provide students and their families an evening of creative ways to be present in the moment as a family. We incorporate community partners and ensure the event is completely free to the family with multiple ways to create family fun through physical wellness and mindfulness. Our student led podcast provides students an opportunity to lead  a weekly podcast that teaches others the connections between physical and mental wellness. Our Eagle Eats Leadership Program is a student led drink shop that instills leadership skills while running a small business within the school weekly. All of these components have taken minimal investment to create and implement with massive gains to our students' choices, behaviors and social skills.

2:15-2:30 Break

World Café - Implementing Health Education in their Schools

The World Café is a practical conversational structure that creates the opportunity for meaningful small group dialogue. As participants move between groups, they have the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas and make new connections around implementing Health Education into Schools. This offers participants a unique opportunity to engage in important and dynamic conversations that open up new possibilities for action. 

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Community Development Services
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK