Megan McPheeters has been the P.E. teacher at Monett Elementary School for seven years– and enjoys every second of it. 

“They care about everything,” explained McPheeters. “They want to be here and they are excited to be here. It’s really good to come to a school everyday where the kids want to be here.”  

Part of the motivation comes from a five-year grant initiative. Since 2013, the Monett School District has been participating in the “Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities” program — and McPheeters says she has already seen an improvement in her students. 

“Since the day one of our grant, they’ve been more involved with with eating healthy, trying new things, more sports are being introduced to them or activities,” McPheeters added.

Kindergartners through eighth graders have started increasing physical activity through before and after school programs, such as the morning mile. 

“It avoids kids coming sitting in the gym and talking to their friends; instead they get to go outside on the track and walk with their friends,” said Alex Severs of Monett Schools Dist. Wellness. 

Funds have also made it possible to get access to healthy food like fruits and vegetables throughout the school day, as well as the installation of stations for filling water bottles.

“It’s really great to have these opportunities and new experiences for these kids so they know what’s out there and what they can do to make them happy and make good choices,” McPheeters explained. 

The grant money will fund one more year of the programs and healthy choice options– but school leaders plan on applying for more grants after 2017 to keep kids healthy.