GOTG Profile: Julie Jenkins, Academy Director – La Petite Academy
I caught up with Julie Jenkins, Academy Director for La Petite Academy. With 26 years of education experience under her belt, this California native is happy to announce that her school was recently named the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America.The Learning Care Group, which includes five Sacramento La Petite Academy schools, is being recognized as the 2017 Partnership for a Healthier America Partner of the Year for the company’s work in aligning with the standards of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’sMove! Child Care goals for physical activity, food, beverages, infant feeding, screen time and parent engagement.
What practices sets your school apart from others? La Petite Academy is dedicated to proper nutrition and physical fitness for all of the children in our care, from infants through school age. We just celebrated the 5th anniversary of our “Grow Fit” healthy lifestyle program and the impact that we are making in children’s lives. At our school specifically, we ensure that every morning starts with a nutritious breakfast, then our morning stretch routine. The children really look forward to our specialty stretches… their favorite is our “3 minute stretch!” We ensure that our lunch is healthy and well balanced, and that our afternoon snack gives the children the boost of energy they need to have a successful afternoon. Physical activity is an important part of every day. We encourage movement throughout the day, indoors and outdoors. The teachers and the children play games, run relays, and exercise. We also offer Tutu Performing Arts Ballet, Amazing Athletes Sports and Mini-Kickers Soccer, as optional programs.
How have the kids responded to these practices? The children love them. We often observe the children doing stretches on their own or leading other small groups of their peers. Outside, you will always see active learning going on as the children play.
What does a typical day at La Petite look like? Every day is full of energy and lots of laughter! The children arrive throughout the morning. We serve breakfast, then we go into our morning routine, which includes our Morning Meeting, our active academic learning centers, and outside gross motor development activities. In the mid-day, our teachers and children eat lunch together “family-style,” then we have a rest/nap period. We remind the children that when we rest, our bodies are growing! We have a nutritious afternoon snack, engage in learning activities in our intentional active learning centers, hold our Afternoon Meeting, and enjoy more time outdoors. While our days are busy, the children are constantly active, using their imagination, and developing life-long learning skills!
Do you source any local food? At this time, we do not. We do provide fresh, seasonable fruits and veggies as often as possible, and we follow all CACFP guidelines.
What local female inspires you: My mother inspires me in so many ways. She has a heart of gold and huge love for children and healthy eating. I’m proud to say that I have followed her footsteps on how to care and love children and encourage children on eating new foods.
You’re a mom, how has Heath education improved in the last 10 years? In the last 10 years, I think health education overall has truly evolved. At our schools, our Grow Fit program has been a great way for us to teach our children about the importance of making healthy choices, which is one of the most important life skills they can learn.