Category Archives: UTES HFI

This category is has all programs and events that the University of Texas Elementary School implements through it Healthy Families Initiative

IACP: White House pastry chef gets in the garden with UT Elementary students


By Addie Broyles | Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 06:00 PM The Statesman

Bill Yosses, executive pastry chef at the White House who has earned the nicknamed “the Crustmaster” from the president, says it’s still cool enough in D.C. to be harvesting broccoli, kohlrabi, Swiss chard and kale and that he’s particularly excited about the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that are ripening on bushes on the White House grounds.

“We’ve also had a bumper crop of rhubarb this year,” he said today after helping University of Texas Elementary School students harvest the last of their spring crop. (You know what that means: Rhubarb crisp for the first family. )

Yosses was in Austin for a Chefs Move to Schools event at UT Elementary, where he helped harvest the last of the students’ spring crop earlier today.
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The school has 20 4-foot-by-8-foot raised garden beds in the back of the school property and is one of hundreds of U.S. schools participating in Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program, which pairs up schools with chefs to help students learn cooking skills and healthy eating habits.

“The things you are learning in the garden and the memories you are making are so huge, so important,” Yosses told a group of about 20 students at an event that was also part of the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ annual conference. (He later spoke at a rally at the capitol with Food Network star Ellie Krieger.)

After telling the students about his own recent vegetable discovery — carrot lemonade — Yosses asked the kids what they liked from the garden that they hadn’t tried before. “Sorrel,” one student said. “It tastes like lemon lime soda.” Yosses laughed. “I think I was 30 before I tried sorrel,” he replied.

Yosses, dressed in a light gray suit, led the students outside so they could harvest vegetables to take to Whole Foods Market’s Lamar Culinary Center, where they later cooked and served several dishes to their parents and IACP attendees who were tagging along.

Throughout the year, teachers at UT Elementary incorporate the school’s garden in the curriculum for all 260 students, but about 20 of them participate in an after-school program called WellNest, which gives them additional lessons in physical education, nutrition and cooking.

Bob Knipe, who coordinates the program, says it gives students and their families a boost to help put the wellness lessons to use, and it’s working for students like third-grader Felix Sanchez, who has lost 12 pounds in the past year.
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With Sanchez (above, cooking at Whole Foods) picking cabbage out of earshot, his mom, Suzanne, said that he first realized he’d dropped a few pounds when his underwear stopping fitting him right.

“Our whole family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure,” she said. “Growing up, we ate enough, but not the right foods.” Suzanne Sanchez says her son finally realizes what he needs to do to prevent that from happening to him.

More links to related stories:


See this back story from November 2010:…

UFCU donates to UT Elementary School’s Healthy Families Initiative

UFCU jpegUniversity Federal Credit Union (UFCU) has presented a generous donation of $10,000 to The University of Texas Elementary School’s Healthy Families Initiative (HFI) on Monday, May 23, at 10 a.m. in the school gardens.

Rhonda Summerbell, senior manager of University Relations, said, “UFCU has seen the benefits of the Healthy Families Initiative on students and their families over the years. We are proud to support this model program, and to extend its message by making our own summer wellness program available to students.”

The program, which includes an eight-week activity booklet focusing on physical fitness and nutrition, will kick-off on June 11 with UFCU’s Youth FitFest Day at participating UFCU branches. Students who complete the summer program can participate in a culminating event at UFCU Disch-Falk Field that will include prizes.

UFCU, a longtime supporter of UT Elementary School, chose to give to the Healthy Families Initiative due to the current national concern on childhood obesity rates and the initiative’s proven track record. HFI is credited with reducing the prevalence of overweight and obese students at the school. It offers students a coordinated approach to building and implementing healthy habits into the student’s daily activities. For instance, students engage with a physical education instructor several days a week and are encouraged to participate in several school-wide annual events. The school also hosts several after-school programs, including WellNest, which promotes physical and nutritional wellness.

Robert Knipe, the school’s physical education teacher, is glad that HFI continues to receive such wonderful support from the community.
“Anyone who sees our students’ excitement about eating a vegetable salad that they personally helped grow in the school gardens or sees our kids training for a big event like our annual 5k run, can’t help but get excited along with them,” said Knipe. “It becomes very apparent that these lessons are making deep impressions in how our students are going to live the rest of the lives.”

UT Elementary School, located at 2201 E. 6th Street, is operated by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. It serves 260 pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade students in East Austin. For more information about UT Elementary School and its Healthy Families Initiative, visit

With more than $1.3 billion in assets, UFCU is Austin’s largest locally-owned financial institution and serves over 150,000 members in the Austin and Galveston areas.  For more information on UFCU’s products and services, visit

New Shoes Inspire UT Elementary School Students To Run

Fifth graders at the University of Texas Elementary School will receive a new pair of athletic shoes for the third straight year from RunTex, the nation’s largest store devoted to running, on Friday, May 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the school.


Paul Carrozza, RunTex owner, is making the shoe donation and sponsoring a group of students involved in Born to Run, an after-school program, to participate in the Congress Avenue Mile on May 21.

At UT Elementary School students are taught the importance of participating regularly in physical activity as a way to keep fit and build a strong foundation focused on the benefits of exercise. Students engage with a physical education instructor several days a week, participate in an annual school-wide track and field day, a 5K fun run that gets their families involved and after-school programs that emphasize physical activity performance like the WellNest and Born to Run.


Born to Run matches students with coaches and athletes from The University of Texas at Austin to train every Friday afternoon. As a goal, students are encouraged to run in a race like the Congress Avenue Mile.

The shoe donation comes before the scheduled run and will recognize the students’ hard work and commitment to the program.

“Running is something I am passionate about, and I see that passion sparked in the students at UT Elementary School,” said Carrozza. “When students set out to train over a period of several months they see the work it takes to improve one’s running time and get better results, and that transfers to other parts of their lives and makes them want to try harder and go farther.”

UTES Donates Blood

bloodUT Elementary donates to save lives Fifteen staff at The University of Texas Elementary School boarded The Blood Center of Central Texas’ van in the school parking lot last Friday to give blood, and set a positive example for their students that giving back to one’s community benefits the giver as well as the receiver. The blood drive was organized by Mia Tannous, third-grade teacher, who got the idea after visiting the Red Cross Web site and noting that the organization was in high need of blood donations. Tannous contacted The Blood Center of Central Texas to set up a drive and started to recruit volunteer donors. “This project just proves how much we are givers, not just to our students but to our community,” said Tannous. “We are committed to community engagement.” Tannous’ community service project actually began in January when she enlisted her own class to participate in a collection drive to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to provide relief to several North American states and other countries, including Brazil and Australia that had been severely impacted by major floods last fall and winter. The students learned about the regions where the floods occurred and visited every classroom at the school for two weeks to collect change. The result totaled $190. Tannous is hoping that the Red Cross will write back to the students to extend the project. Meanwhile she may not have to look far for volunteer participation in a future blood drive. Emily Work, UT Elementary School administrative associate said, “I feel good donating my blood for a good cause. I am very thankful to help and would definitely do it again.”

Growing Plants while Growing Relationships

April 4th, 2011 · By: Paola Rodriguez

Fourth grade and pre-kindergarten students at The University of Texas Elementary School are accomplishing more than growing a vegetable garden behind the school, they are also getting to advance their Social and Emotional Learning skills by building friendships as they work alongside one another.

“This year each pre-kindergarten student has been matched with a fourth grade buddy whom they adore,” says Marcia Molinar, pre-kindergarten teacher at UT Elementary. “This pairing has been great for building self-esteem among the fourth graders who teach the material they have learned to their little buddies.”

The younger students also benefit from spending individual time with a more experienced learner. The experience gives them an opportunity to have a mentor or role model and to learn how to collaborate; all while learning about gardening and the environment. Fourth grade teacher Sara Hilgers, Molinar and their teaching assistants work with students on assertiveness and assurance skills that help the students work together in teams.

Recently the students planted potatoes, mint, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers and different lettuces. In addition, they have also planted different types of flowers like petunias, marigolds, lavender and passion flower.

The classes are now anxiously waiting to harvest the vegetables and perhaps prepare a meal to share together. “Our gardens are looking great, showing all the hard work our students are putting in them,” said Hilgers. “Our students are learning to take care of the environment which is a great idea since they are the future leaders of our world.”

The WellNest Afterschool Program

Twenty families at the school participate in this year’s Healthy Families Initiative after-school program, focusing on physical activity and healthy food consumption. The students spend each weekday engaging in one aspect of the after-school program model with health experts. Two days a week are spent performing physical activities with the school physical education teacher Bob “Coach K” Knipe, two days are spent learning to garden and cook through the Garden to Table Program, with chef Toni Tipton-Martin and one day involves a team practice in either soccer or tennis with coaches from Ignite A Dream, an Austin nonprofit organization. Families engage in WellNest Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) Nights where they participate in fitness activities, participate in cooking demos, take nutrition classes and leave with a bag of farm fresh organic vegetables each time. It is our belief that with this support the whole family will work together to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle.

Check out our new video that highlights our Sponsored Share Program,
with our partnership with Green Gate Farm and GILDA Grace.
Click here for the video.

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If you would like to see some of the activities we have going on you can follow us on the calendar below.

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WellNest After School Program Calendar

UTES a Wellness School


Physical Education

“It is the unique role of quality physical education programs to develop the health-related fitness, physical competence, and cognitive understanding about physical activity for all students so that they can adopt healthy and physically active lifestyles.”
National Association for Sport and Physical Education

Instructional Philosophy

To ensure a healthy future, children must be given the knowledge of the importance of daily physical activity for good health and the physical skills that will allow them to participate in physical activity for a lifetime. In addition, they must also experience the personal enjoyment that can come from being physically active. Therefore, physical education classes at the University of Texas Elementary School will allow students sufficient activity time for health-related fitness, will teach them a variety of skills so they are capable of participating in an assortment of lifetime physical activities, and will allow students to experience the implicit fun and enjoyment that can come from leading a healthy, active lifestyle.

Wellness Staff

UT Elementary’s health and physical education teacher and onsite wellness interventionist for third-through-fifth-grades is Brian ‘Coach D’ Dauenhauer, and Bob ‘Coach K’ Knipe teaches physical education for pre kindergarten through second grade and is the WellNest Afterschool Program Director.

Standards for Instruction & Assessment

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Physical Education provide the curricular framework for our program. The following student outcome objectives are based on these standards and are addressed within the curriculum:

  • will demonstrate competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
  • will demonstrate understanding of movement concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics as they apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.
  • will participate regularly in physical activity.
  • will achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.
  • will exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.
  • will value physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

Physical education teachers at UT Elementary also adhere to the Appropriate Practices for Elementary School Physical Education suggested by NASPE. They include supporting cultural diversity, not using exercise as punishment, facilitating maximum participation for every student, and maintaining a positive learning environment.

Assessment in physical education includes daily monitoring of attendance, attire, attitude, participation, and citizenship. It also includes unit-based skill assessments, such as dribbling and passing in basketball units and throwing and catching in baseball/softball units. Younger students are assessed on more basic locomotor skills such as skipping, galloping and hopping. In kindergarten, second grade, and fifth grade, students are assessed using NASPE’s PEMetrics, the first nationally validated assessment instrument for physical education. And students in grades 2-5 participate in the FitnessGram test battery 3 times per school year.

Research Base

The University of Texas Elementary School is pleased to have an ongoing consulting relationship with Dolly Lambdin, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Lambdin was the 2004-2005 President of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. She has 16 years of teaching experience at the elementary school level and over 30 years at the university level. Her book, “Putting Research to Work in Elementary Physical Education: Conversations in the Gym” coauthored by Lawrence Locke, reviews 30 research studies addressing such topics as instruction, class management, program design, and workplace conditions in elementary school physical education. Lambdin incorporates a large base of research topics into the practice of teaching quality physical education.

The University of Texas Elementary School is also pleased to collaborate with Xiaofen Keating and Louis Harrison, both Associate Professors in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s newly developed Physical Education Teacher Education program. Dr. Keating’s research interests include college students’ physical activity patterns and the use of fitness testing in schools. Dr. Harrison has focused his research on the influences of race related self-schemata and African American racial identity on physical activity choices and performance. Dr. Keating and Dr. Harrison provide guidance to the physical education teachers at UT Elementary School and supervise ongoing research projects at the school.

Application of Research

SPARK (Sport, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) is a research-based physical education curriculum designed to “promote high levels of physical activity, teach movement skills, and be enjoyable”. Results from multiple publications indicate that SPARK lessons taught by physical education specialists can improve time spent in physical activity, can improve skill development in catching and throwing, and is given high ratings of enjoyment by students.

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is a coordinated school health curriculum approved by the Texas Education Agency that contains a physical education component in the form of a card file of various warm-up activities, aerobic activities, practice activities, and skill lead-up games. The program has been shown to increase levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity during physical education classes and increase daily vigorous physical activity in children.

Physical activities, lessons, and teaching strategies are utilized from these two established programs in the physical education curriculum at the University of Texas Elementary School to provide students with maximal opportunities to be physically active, practice skills, and connect these learning to principles of good health and positive nutrition.

Active Research

In addition to applying established research, the University of Texas Elementary School is excited to be actively involved in cutting-edge research to determine the effectiveness of a novel approach to physical education. Brian Dauenhauer, the school’s physical education teacher and wellness interventionist is also a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction. He is currently the principal investigator on a study called Applying the 3-Tier Response to Intervention (RTI) Model to Promote Physical Activity (PA) and Prevent Obesity among Minority Elementary Students in an Urban Setting. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if a model currently being used in other academic areas can be applied to physical education to increase physical activity, enhance fitness, and improve the body composition of the students at UT Elementary School. The results of this study, if successful, could serve as a model of what physical education could look like in the public school system.

The 3-tier response to intervention model offers multiple levels of instruction that vary in scope and intensity. Instructional decisions are based on physical activity data collected with pedometers, fitness data collected using FitnessGram, and body mass index collected by the school nurse. The 3 levels of intervention consist of the following strategies:

Tier 1- Core Instructional Interventions

  • Quality physical education
  • 150 minutes per week
  • National standards- and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-based curriculum
  • Taught by qualified physical education specialist(s)
  • Research-based
  • ≥ 50% moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA)
  • Sufficient equipment, space, time, teacher/student ratio
  • Quality health instruction
  • National standards/TEKS based curriculum
  • Curricular emphasis on nutrition
  • Functional School Health Advisory Council (SHAC)
  • Effective implementation of a coordinated school health program (CSHP)
  • Strict implementation of a school nutrition policy and a local wellness policy
  • Improved nutrition services

Tier 2- Targeted Group Interventions

  • Small groups of students meeting during school hours with physical educator
  • Weekly or bi-weekly
  • PA and nutrition goal-setting and progress monitoring
  • Special homework assignments/challenges related to physical activity and nutrition
  • Assistance with accessing appropriate after-school care facilities

Tier 3- Intensive, Family Interventions

  • 9-week after school program (KidShape)
  • Students and parents involved together
  • Extensive training for students and parents in relation to healthy eating and PA
  • Family activities (cooking, active games)
  • Psychological counseling

The opportunity for students to be exposed to new and innovative curricula and instruction in physical education sets the University of Texas Elementary School apart from other schools and enhances the overall experience that students receive.

Health Education & Nutrition

Students at the University of Texas Elementary School participate in 30 minutes of health instruction each week as part of special areas. The Great Body Shop provides a research-based comprehensive health curriculum for grades K-5 that the physical education teachers implement. Each month, students receive colored issues of the Great Body Shop that have articles and activities related to a variety of health topics. The scope of the health curriculum includes:

  • injury prevention and personal safety
  • nutrition
  • functions of the body
  • growth & development/cycle of family life
  • HIV/AIDS and illness prevention
  • substance abuse prevention
  • community health and safety
  • self-worth, mental and emotional health
  • environmental and consumer health
  • physical fitness.

Each health lesson is designed to be as interactive and hands-on as possible. Students in grades 2-5 actually use remote response systems during health to answer questions about the topic for that month while simultaneously participating in physical activity. Students do bicep curls with t-bands, crunches on exerballs, and stretches on stretch mats, all while answering questions related to important health concepts. This allows students to develop both physically and cognitively and provides the instructor with key assessment information to help tailor future instruction to meet student needs.

Nutrition is an integral part of ensuring the physical well-being of our students and their optimal state of learning. Students learn about proper nutritional practices during health classes, and are encouraged to practice them both at school and with their families at home. Thanks to the Texas Methodist Foundation, the school built 20 raised garden beds on the east side of the building and each season, students plant fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers and tend to them throughout the school year. The garden is an ideal setting for hands-on lessons in nutrition as well as other subjects. Students harvest their personally grown crops at the end of the school year and make healthy recipes for the rest of the school to try.

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