Editor’s note: This is a blog post from Kalpana Kumar Sharma, past Teach to Lead Summit Participant.

kalpanaThe Teach to Lead Initiative, a partnership of the US Department of Education, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and ASCD, has given me a platform to create a wave of health consciousness among teachers, parents, students and community. I have always felt that self-care is often forgotten amidst setting high expectations to be successful in the society. Teacher Leaders as Health Ambassadors trains individuals to become advocates and spread awareness of self-care for people in all walks of life.

My idea is to promote teachers’ health creating awareness for self-care. There are many different ways to take care of ourselves in this fast paced world, but I have taken a few steps that have transformed my life. Now, I want to share my strategies and experiences so that SELF CARE becomes a priority for my colleagues. Based on my personal experiences, I have developed a comprehensive health program that comprises healthy eating & lifestyle habits, simple physical exercises, mental ,emotional and social health, and a Daily Five Minutes of practice.

Let me briefly explain the Health Ambassadors project, which is gaining momentum to put self-care in the driver’s seat. The first presentation is on healthy intake habits which includes a few principles on how to deep breathe, drink water and eat healthy to stay fit. It is based on the knowledge that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between conscious food selection and mindful eating.

Next, the emphasis is on physical health. Now when it comes to physical exercise we always feel that we don’t have enough time and I have felt the same feeling when I joined a gym and later a yoga institute. However, I learned a few yoga exercises which can be done at my convenience within the confines of my home or workplace and have a great impact on my overall health. Three powerful exercises which I practice every day to open all meridian channels have become favorites of mine and others in our program.

The third presentation is on mental, emotional, and social health. Our emotions have strong connections with physical health. We need to recognize the energy within and always try to maintain the vibrant energy which we all possess. Emotions keep changing and depend on various situations around us. How do we keep the balance within ourselves so that the negative emotions do not impact our physical health? I have put together a few strategies to quickly change our negative energy into positive energy.

The last presentation is on a daily five minute practice. I strongly believe that we must spend some time each day to improve our mental and physical health. For this I have put together a list in rhythmic order of a few selective things to be done on a daily basis to stay focused and positive.

I launched this Teach to Lead project in August of last year. Today, we have forty teachers, fifteen parents, and fifteen of our middle school students as health ambassadors at my school. It is my sincere hope that the Health Ambassadors program will promote healthier, happier teachers who in turn will promote healthier, happier, and more productive classroom experiences for students. The goal is to create the wave of health consciousness in all schools across the nation because every child need tools to create a healthy, happy and successful life.

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20160505_203444-1-1 (1)In her fourteenth year teaching at Brightwood Education Campus, Kalpana Kumar Sharma finds joy and happiness in working to shape the young minds in her Classroom. To stay updated with the latest in the field of education she has recently acquired Masters in Early Childhood Special Education and has been conferred a fellowship by Leading Educators institution.  In the last five years Ms. Sharma has volunteered to serve DCPS and her school community on various positions such as Teacher Leadership Innovation Early Childhood Coach, Teacher Selection Ambassador, Grade Level Chair, Social Media Ambassador, Member of the School Equity Committee, LIFT Ambassador, Teaching In Action Consulting Teacher, Member of the Chancellor’s Teachers’ Cabinet and Chairperson of Garden Committee and Wellness Committee.

For her efforts and contributions Ms. Sharma was recognized with the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching, Wolf Trap Best Teacher Award and Values Award from Leading Educators. Though her biggest reward is the great energy, curiosity, and excitement she sees in her students each day. Ms. Sharma believes that teaching gives the power to help a student realize his or her innate potential.

Teacher Leaders as Health Ambassadors