Recognition for a Camden preschool program

Recognition for a Camden preschool program

Cheryl Heatwole-Shenk, center, head Montessori teacher at Sacred Heart School, Camden, accepts a check in recognition of efforts to promote lifelong healthy and active lifestyles for Camden’s 3-5 year-olds. Also pictured are Montessori assistants Ivette Torres, (left), and Kristin Schrum, (far right), and Susan Ralston (second from right), who presented the check.
Photo by James A. McBride

Sacred Heart School’s Montessori Preschool program was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a CEO-led coalition of more than 300 organizations dedicated to helping families and schools fight childhood obesity, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classroom.

The grant is in recognition of the school’s efforts to promote lifelong healthy and active lifestyles for Camden’s 3-5 year-olds.

In a school gathering on June 15 in Sacred Heart Church to celebrate the end of the academic year, teacher Cheryl Heatwole-Shenk accepted the Smart from the Start Award, which honor preschools that develop long-term nutrition and physical activity plans in the classroom.

Finding herself “surprised and delighted” by the grant, Heatwole-Shenk has been the teacher for the all-day program since it began at Sacred Heart in the fall of 2015.

“The Montessori educational approach fosters independence, motivation and a love of learning,” she says. “Everyday, children are able to choose what they want to work on. One-on-one and small group lessons” engage the children.

Her classroom’s efforts to promote physical activity include time inside, utilizing yoga and movement mats, and time outside at local parks.

As well, “we try to integrate healthy food prep daily, teaching the children how to create a healthy snack, that usually includes fruit, vegetables, grains and protein,” Heatwole-Shenk added.

With the $20,000, Heatwole-Shenk sees opportunities to “make investments to benefit Camden’s children here for years to come.”

Her ideas for potential investments include a blender for the classroom to make healthy smoothies; additional physical activity equipment; and family events.

“Camden’s students face more adversity than those in the suburbs,” she feels, and the added nutrition and physical education will give them knowledge and confidence that will outlast their tenure at Sacred Heart.

“We’re equipping these children for life,” she says.

Categories: Catholic School News

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