We Need Your Wellness Success Stories

  • Creating a community focused on health and well-being depends on sharing ideas and success stories.

    • Events and projects starting as ideas and transforming into successful projects or events should be used as inspiration throughout our community. 
    • Please share big and little successes your school or classroom has had.  
    • Provide as many specifics as you can. 
    • Details should include: What type of event or action took place, what grade levels participated, who developed and coordinated the idea or event and how it was funded.  
    • Please includes lots of pictures and an email for contact.
    • Please submit your wellness success stories to Nona Dasenbrock, RDN at nona.dasenbrock@dvusd.org


Seed Starts

  • Fall in Arizona brought with it the opportunity to spread vegetable seeds across the district. Seventeen schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) in Deer Valley received a total of 864 seed starts. Red pepper, cilantro, basil, and spinach seeds are being used (or will be used) in school gardens or as part of curriculum related class projects. By design, the addition of these vegetable and herb starts will help to revitalize existing gardens, help build new garden spaces, and provide an opportunity to bring seeds into the individual classrooms… all in an effort to establish connections with, and encourage discussions about, the foods we eat.

Food Demonstration

  • Executive Chef Cory Oppold from the Atlas Bistro in Scottsdale has been making visits in some of our elementary schools in Deer Valley. Working with second and third graders, Chef Cory, cooks up fun recipes in front of the classes with an interactive demonstration that requires a few student “sous chefs” and a lot of participation from the class. He encourages students to appreciate the foods we have available to us, describing their versatility. And, he tells each class, “I won’t be offended if you don’t like what I make, but it would be great to at least try it” demonstrating just how important it is for young children to be introduced to and encouraged to try new foods.

    Cory Oppold is part of Slow Food Phoenix and the Blue Watermelon Project. This group of chefs, farmers, and community members advocate for nutrition and food education geared toward children, by bringing cooking, tasting, hands-on activities, and fresh, local foods into the classrooms.

Leaders in School Wellness

  • Deer Valley Unified School District was awarded the Leaders for School Wellness Subgrant (LSW) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition Grant via the Health and Nutrition Division (HNS) of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

    With this grant, a Wellness Specialist was hired by the Food and Nutrition Department to organize and provide nutrition education in the 4th and 5th grades, help promote healthy eating and physical activity within each school environment, and encourage workplace wellness throughout the district. The LSW subgrant is currently focused on three “pilot” schools within the school district (Village Meadows Elementary, Mirage Elementary, and Park Meadows Elementary). All kinds of wonderful wellness activities are developing across the district. 

    • Nutrition education has started at each grant participating school. The year-long curriculum (8 lessons in total) provides content geared toward making healthy choices every day. Students will receive lessons about MyPlate, the food groups, a balanced diet, nutrients, “sometimes” foods, vegetable subgroups, grain types, food labels, and portions.
    • DVUSD’s first taste test of the school year (Cowboy Caviar) was incredibly successful. The majority of student critics “loved” the new item and they will even see how important their opinions are with the inclusion of this item on the October menu.
    • Athletic equipment for P.E., recess, and/or before and after school programs was provided to each grant participating school.
    • Plant starts (spinach, basil, pepper, and cilantro) are on their way to the school gardens at Copper Creek, Highland Lakes, Village Meadows, and Sandra Day O’Conner.
    • The "Wellness Tab" on the district website is bulking up as various resources and policy assessments are added. In summary.


Minutes Out of Your Seat

  • Dana Russell is a teacher at Stetson Hills.  Her class is participating in the “Minutes Out of Your Seat” Challenge with the NCAA.  Dana’s students are excited about having time out of their seat to help them rejuvenate and help them focus on their assignments.  As several of her students have said, “It gets us moving, and it just feels good to stand up every once in a while.”  “It gets blood pumping from your legs to your brain so that you can actually think.”  While students are using the microscopes, they stand and hinge (using their stomach muscles to bend) to observe microorganisms.  As they finish writing each section of their claim, evidence, and reasoning, students run laps around the quad to acknowledge the completion of each section.  This helps students chunk their scientific explanation.  Great job Dana in getting your students active!


    This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Movement in the Classroom

  • Susie Ming, 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Stetson Hills, incorporates movement into her classroom. For the past several years, Susie and her fellow teachers have noticed the decreased amount of recess and an increased amount of time students are sitting in hard plastic chairs.  There is less time everyday for students to move and be out of their seats. In the fall of 2016, Susie asked her students about their thoughts on having physioballs in their classroom instead of plastic chairs. They were completely on board with the idea! She wrote a DonorsChose grant and within 23 hours, the project was funded. Four days later, the equipment arrived at the school on a palate from Amazon. Each of her students have a physioball to sit on as well as rings to store the balls.
    Susie’s students have increased their focus and really enjoy coming into a classroom that allows them some movement. Of course, they do have norms to follow on the physioballs as well as consequences, but they really value using them and monitor themselves and well as their peers. Susie reports it has been a great experience for the students and for her as well. She loves seeing their excitement when the class incorporates exercise and movement into learning and their faces light up when have they "bounce breaks.”   Great job Susie!

Boulder Creek HS Project Produce

  • “How was the date?”  When you hear that questions asked of in the halls at Boulder Creek High School, most would immediately think the question was about a student’s weekend plans. But these “dates” were different than most students had ever heard of.   Arizona grown dates were one of the many fruits and vegetables students had the opportunity to taste test while having lunch in the cafeteria.

    The Boulder Creek Food & Nutrition Department received a grant from Project Produce to promote students trying new fruits and vegetables.  Project produce is one of several grants provided by the Chef Ann Foundation.  The Chef Ann Foundation states the purpose of the grant is to “Expand students’ palates, and encourage increased consumption and exposure of fresh produce…"

    Students were presented with four taste test opportunities.  They tasted produce on its own and in recipes such as a kale salad with pomegranate seeds and mandarin oranges.  Some of the produce available to taste included: Brussels sprouts, blood oranges, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, mangos, asparagus and eggplant.


Mountain Shadows Lead-a-Thon Fun Run

  • The Mountain Shadows PTSA held the 2nd Annual Lead-a-Thon Fun Run. This fun event had students K-6 (and some staff and parents) running laps during PE to help raise funds for their school.  Students had a goal of raising $25 each.  Prizes and parties were presented based on amount raised. The event raised approximately $8600 after expenses of $3700 were paid.  Local sponsors helped with contributions of $2000 to cover expenses. T-shirts and prizes were obtained through Fast Trac at a discount. For more information about this event contact msptsa2@yahoo.com