Healthy meals press conference on Aug. 31, 2017 at Bellows Spring Elementary School.

Feeding Young Minds

Fueling students with proper nutrition is one way the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is empowering every child to achieve through equitable access to healthy foods. This school year HCPSS will better serve our youngest learners by expanding our Let’s Rethink Lunch Healthy Meals Program and offering fresh salad bar options at every elementary school.

Let’s Rethink Lunch gives students access to a wider range of high quality, healthy and delicious options for school meals. Last year, Bollman Bridge, Laurel Woods and Talbott Springs elementary schools had great success as pilot schools.

Studies show that healthy eating boosts students’ focus and cognitive function. We can increase school connectedness by reinforcing the high value we place on our students’ health and well-being. We also believe nutritious school meals will encourage students to develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Let’s Rethink Lunch demonstrates our Office of Food and Nutrition Services’ commitment to providing well-balanced, nutritional meals for all students. Recent recognitions include HCPSS’ “A+” on the 2016 School Food Environment Grades report from Healthy School Food Maryland, and HCPSS schools’ HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms awards from the United States Department of Agriculture.

I’m thankful for the Horizon Foundation’s partnership in launching the Let’s Rethink Lunch pilot, and for our county and community leaders’ support of the program’s expansion this year.

I invite you to watch this video to see the positive impact of this innovative program, which links together nutrition, education, physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle.

The Power of Changing Our Mindset


Our guest blogger this week is Jeff O’Neal, a senior at Mt. Hebron High School who serves as Student Government President. He writes today about a recent discussion on the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 9.26.30 AMEarlier this month, I had the privilege to participate in a book discussion led by Dr. Foose on “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck. The book explores the idea of mindset and how it affects people’s lives, focusing on the comparison of the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that self-imposed change can be too hard or impossible, but one with a growth mindset believes that change is necessary for improvement.

While this may seem like common sense, there is an encouraging value in the book’s lessons, particularly for future generations. Mindset itself can be changed, and changing it can reap benefits in virtually all aspects of our lives. The growth mindset accepts and learns from failure, viewing it as a necessary step on the road to success.

While the feeling of failure is certainly not enjoyable, the most important part of failing is when you pick yourself up and resolve to move on from it, better equipped with an understanding that you didn’t have before. From failure, we are able to identify our strengths and weakness and learn how to improve our skills.

This idea is not revolutionary. Successful people in a variety of fields have learned from experiences, especially failures, and have taken the opportunity to better themselves. The drive and perseverance in trying to make themselves better are traits that a growth mindset develops and strengthens. This manner of thinking takes time to develop, which is why teachers play an integral role in fostering the growth mindset in their students.

Mr. Tom Sankey, my calculus teacher of two years, has always tried to empower students by showing them that their efforts make a difference. He always pushes every student to go above and beyond so that they can truly master the material, regardless of the grades they may be earning in the class. Students in his class are able to understand that a poor grade can eventually become a better grade with effort, and he makes himself available to help his his students every step of the way. Mr. Sankey, like many of my teachers at Mt. Hebron, helps students understand the power of effort.

With a growth mindset, students can learn from failures and understand that every bit of time and effort expended on any endeavor, whether it is a service project, difficult class, or friendship, will truly make a difference in improving their lives.