Baptist Teams up With School Districts for Innovative Health Education Program

Monday, December 19, 2011


Baptist is joining forces with teachers throughout 34 school districts in central Mississippi to make it easy for them to teach good health habits to children. Baptist is partnering with HealthTeacher, a leader in developing health literacy resources, to provide teachers online tools for comprehensive health education. Baptist is the only hospital in Mississippi offering this program.

"Our commitment to education, outreach and the promotion of health literacy makes a partnership like this extremely valuable as Baptist works to improve the health status of Mississippi," said Baptist President and CEO Mark Slyter, FACHE. "By sponsoring and funding HealthTeacher, we have an opportunity to do something really important to help both our teachers, children and their families."

The HealthTeacher website contains over 300 standards-based lesson plans that focus on skill development, not just knowledge. Educators can also access daily news articles, background information, and interactive tools to enhance their health education instruction. The HealthTeacher website is available for any staff member in the 34 funded districts, allowing them to integrate health education more easily into instruction and core content areas. Online lesson plans make it easier to teach students good health habits.

Funded by Baptist Health Foundation, the project will include health education materials and professional development for K-12 schools, preschools, after school programs, and community organizations. The 2007 Healthy Students Act requires that all schools implement 45 minutes of Health Education per week, and 150 minute of physical education/physical activity per week in grades K-8. It also requires half Carnegie Unit of Health Education and Physical Education in high school for graduation.

Mary Ann Simpkins is the Health Education Coordinator for Baptist Health Foundation and HealthTeacher Youth Health Literacy Collaborative. She was previously the School Health Director for a CDC-funded project in the Mississippi Department of Education's Office of Healthy Schools, and has worked directly with school districts during the last three and a half years to help improve health and education outcomes through coordinated school health initiatives.

"The first step for accessing HealthTeacher is a signed letter of participation from each funded district, stating that they will promote and utilize the HealthTeacher curriculum and will schedule teacher training in their district," Simpkins said. "Health education for children has the potential for positive long-term impact. We know that healthy students are better equipped to learn in all academic areas. The mission of this collaborative is to instill lifelong health habits and personal responsibility into our youth to enable them to live healthy and productive lives and HealthTeacher are dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of the children in our schools and communities."

Baptist held meetings with school superintendents  this past Fall to introduce the program. Simpkins is now following up and providing training in the school districts.  For more information, contact the Baptist Health Foundation at 601.968.1489.

Baptist Health Systems is the parent company of Baptist Medical Center, The Mississippi Hospital for Restorative Care and a number of related healthcare services and programs. For over 100 years, Baptist Medical Center has served Mississippi and the surrounding states as a Christian-based, non-profit comprehensive medical Center. In 2012, no hospital in Mississippi has more Five-Star Ratings than Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., as recognized by HealthGrades, America's leading independent healthcare ratings organization. HealthGrades listed Baptist among the best 100 hospitals in the nation for orthopedic Surgery, joint Replacement, general surgery, and prostatectomy and number one in Mississippi for coronary interventions and vascular surgery.

HealthTeacher was originally developed in 1999 by health educators and health professionals with the goal of providing a comprehensive online resource that would make it easy to teach good health habits to children. Today HealthTeacher is used in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. From urban and suburban schools to after school programs and home schools, HealthTeacher's 20,000 current users are health educators, school nurses, physical education teachers, classroom teachers, community organizers and parents. For more information visit,


Find A Doctor



Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors


Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×