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District 'Wellness Center' Keeps Teachers Healthy, and Happy


By Lisa Stark 

Nashville elementary school teachers Megan Hollis and Alexis Scott have run one half-marathon and are training for a second. They credit the district's new Employee Wellness Center for making that possible.

The Center, opened this school year by Metro Nashville Public Schools, offers employees a free gym, fitness classes, and personal trainers. It's also a one-stop shop for medical needs—with a health clinic, a pharmacy, physical therapy, and psychological counseling. 

This is the latest health-care offering from the district, which already had converted classroom portables into onsite medical clinics at five of its schools. A study by the RAND Corporation found school-based clinics could lower health-care costs for districts, and slightly reduce teacher absences. 

The clinics handle about 500 primary care visits a week, according to David Hines, executive director of benefits for the district. "We want people to have easy access to care," says Hines, who adds that the Wellness Center takes the district's effort a big step forward, attempting to keep people healthy as opposed to just treating them when they're sick.

Hollis and Scott say the free gym and fitness classes help reduce the stress that comes with being a teacher. "These are nice perks to have," says Scott, "because our job is hard."  

See also: How Onside Child Care Helps Teachers Juggle Parenthood and Work (Video) 

As districts across the country have struggled to attract and retain qualified teachers, some school systems are trying out unusual perks for their employees. 

Nashville believes the onsite medical care helps with teacher retention. Their data shows teachers who use the clinics for their primary care are more likely to stay on with the district. 

This video is the second in an Education Week series featuring four districts that are thinking outside the box when it comes to building a supportive work environment. 

Other districts are offering benefits such as onsite childcare, sabbaticals, and tiny homes for teachers. Check back in the next week for more video profiles. 

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