HOLMDEL (January 31, 2020) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) recently invited Holmdel Superintendent of Schools Robert McGarry to a convening entitled “Building Educator Skills in Teaching (BEST): Understanding Essential Knowledge and Skills for Health Education” This two-day meeting will take place at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia this March. 


The purpose of this gathering of educators is to assist the CDC in identifying emerging issues in developing teacher essential knowledge and skills (i.e., instructional competencies) to support high quality pedagogy in health education.  To this end, the CDC has identified “a diverse set of experts from across school health education, sexual health education, and general education fields to identify promising research and practice-based strategies that support instructional practice.” “Such strategies can in turn, help shape adolescent health-enhancing behavior and prevent risk during middle and high school years,” the CDC indicated.  


“I am honored to have been selected to participate in this convening and to have the opportunity to work with national leaders in the area of health education,” Dr. Robert McGarry shared.  “I believe this invitation recognizes the good work we are doing in mindfulness and social and emotional learning and the efforts we have made to increase mental health supports for all students in our district,” he added. 

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In 2017, Dr. McGarry initiated a multi-year strategy designed to incorporate mindfulness into the district’s schools through pedagogical practices and other activities.  The district is also currently building its capacity to implement social and emotional learning in a more focused and intentional manner. 


This year, upon Dr. McGarry’s recommendation, the district developed aunique partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare that is focused on creating a healthy environment for learning by developing prevention and intervention strategies that promote academic and life success for all of the students. A fulltime school-based therapist assists the district in identifying and intervening during the early stages of problematic behavior and assists parents and school personnel in developing comprehensive strategies for addressing these behaviors.

McGarry looks forward to bringing back new insights to inform future efforts in Holmdel.