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Fauquier FRESH awarded ‘Active Learning Grant’ from the Virginia Department of Education

Fauquier FRESH was recently awarded funding through the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) ‘Active Learning Grant.’ Focusing on children in pre-K to second grade, grant funding will support FRESH’s multi-year approach to integrating more movement in classrooms across Fauquier County. Grant programming will begin by piloting calming and refocusing strategies.

In 2017, VDOE and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) partnered to establish Virginia’s Chief Movement Officers (CMOs) cadre– a cohort of health and physical education teachers working together to increase active-learning opportunities for Virginia school children. With the support of VDOE grant funding, FRESH has partnered with the CMO to pilot-test calming and refocusing strategies in select FCPS classrooms. These short, 1-3 minute exercises, can help increase students’ attention spans, coping skills, and ability to work through academic challenges. The strategies can also help students regain their focus following more high-energy moments in the classroom.

During the 2021-22 school year, FRESH staff, CMOs, and volunteer teachers from Pre-K to high school classrooms will learn new calming and refocusing strategies each month. Teachers will pilot strategies in their classrooms and provide feedback. At the end of the school year, FRESH will create professional curriculum packages highlighting the most successful strategies. These packages will include videos of the calming and refocusing techniques in action. The curriculum will be made available to teachers across the county and uploaded to VDOE’s #GoOpenVA digital library, allowing teachers state-wide to access the material.

The pilot program is off to a very successful start. Nearly 100 teachers are participating across FCPS schools and over 4,000 students are practicing new calming and refocusing strategies each month.

FRESH Supervisor, Kristen McAuliffe remarked on the significance of this pilot program and corresponding funding stating: “Integrating movement in the classroom helps keep kids’ brains active and ready to learn.  The calming and refocusing strategies we are piloting this year will equip teachers with strategies to bring children back into a focused mindset following active learning lessons or transitions within and among classrooms.  Ms. McAuliffe went on to say, “Grant funding from VDOE allows us to further the impact of this pilot program by creating curriculum that will be accessible to teachers county and state-wide who are interested in using these techniques. This funding is a win for Fauquier County Public Schools and educators across Virginia.”

Fauquier FRESH is Fauquier County Public Schools program. Its mission is to maximize opportunities for students to engage in active learning, active living, and nutritional education. FRESH fulfills this mission through its three pillars: FRESH Moves, FRESH Eats, and FRESH Reads.  For more information on the FRESH program, visit www.fauquierfresh.org