Kimberly Simpson: Communicating Health for Lancaster ISD
Lancaster ISD’s Chief of Communications Kimberly Simpson began promoting the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge years ago, when she was first in a coordinator position.
“It might’ve been about 2017. We were approached by the City of Lancaster and I was a coordinator at that time, so my boss, the chief at the time, asked me to kind of spearhead the project. It’s cool to see it come full circle, where now I’m the Chief of Communications, and as the Challenge has grown, so has our school district’s participation. I credit my team because we all think this is so important for our schools,” said Ms. Simpson.
The relationship between Lancaster ISD and the city has grown stronger since that first Community Challenge, and both the school district and the city continue to place at the top of the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge leaderboards.
Ms. Simpson was in charge of promoting the first It’s Time Texas Community Challenge the first year the challenge was brought to Lancaster ISD a few years back. She loves to find new ways to promote the eight-week competition and loves to help her coworkers, principals, teachers, students, and even parents stay motivated throughout the entire year when it comes to being healthy.
“Health and wellness are two things we started our school year off with strong. Our motto is ‘raise your roar!’ and we turned it into ‘raise your wellness!’ so the Community Challenge fit perfectly into our plan,” she said.
With the help of her team and health coordinator, Coach Harrison, Ms. Simpson was able to get the word out about the 2022 Community Challenge in a timely manner, setting aside time for faculty and students to sign-up before and after professional development meetings, sending out fun, health facts each week in campus GroupMe chats, motivating via email and a social media campaign, and setting aside time to register for students during their physical education classes.
“I wanted to be strategic about this. So, I took what I’ve learned in the past years and gave those tools to my team and they really ran with it. So, I really want to give kudos to my team. Although you’re talking to me, they’re really doing all the legwork,” said Ms. Simpson.
Ms. Simpson sees participation during the eight weeks all over her campuses. Faculty will remind one another to log their healthy lunches, their water consumption, etc. throughout the day. For teachers, they’ve implemented workout classes after work twice a week. Her team sends nutrition facts at strategic times—early in the morning, lunchtime, evening, and weekends—which is extremely effective.
“I don’t want to constantly remind and annoy people to remember to log their food or water and activities. But, sending out these nutrition and health facts act in that way. It’s informative, interesting, offers a learning opportunity, and acts as a gentle reminder to do something healthy for the Community Challenge!”
Lancaster ISD schools encourage their students to be healthier via their physical education classes and the health and wellness coordinator, Coach Harrison, visits schools to discuss with students why it’s important to create healthy habits and how to properly manage their health, setting each student up for success.
“Something else we’ve implemented, especially in the face of COVID-19, is focusing on mental health. So as a school district we’ve really focused on our social and emotional learning and giving tools to our counselors so they can provide support to our students,” said Ms. Simpson.
The pandemic impacted everyone. As a district, Lancaster ISD focuses on students being well-rounded in health, from physical to mental health. Kicking off the school year with “raise your wellness” is something Ms. Simpson is extremely proud of and is seeing the positive impact it has created.
“I don’t want to give away all our secrets!” laughed Ms. Simpson. “No, I’m kidding, but I do hope we win this year’s It’s Time Texas Community Challenge!”
Ms. Simpson swears that having an open-line of communication and talking openly about mental, physical, and emotional health and wellness is the key to her success in Lancaster ISD.