SURREY — Surrey superintendent David Gerding was presented with the Participant Award at the 36th annual Roughrider Health Promotion Conference on June 3 in Medora. The candidate for the award must exhibit a positive attitude and enthusiasm for classes and activities.
Gerding, who started at Surrey as a counselor, was later the principal at Surrey before he became superintendent.
Things have changed a lot for educators over the past years, he said, and mental health and physical health are both more important than ever.
“(The coronavirus pandemic) hit our students pretty hard,” said Gerding.
He said the Roughrider Health Promotion Conference, which he has attended 12 times, is one of the best conferences he goes to. During the conference, educators get a chance to talk with educators from other schools around the state and get ideas for new things to try in their own schools. This year’s conference had 150 participants from more than 40 schools across North Dakota and South Dakota.
Participants at the conference develop action plans for their own schools for the coming year on different health and wellness topics.
“We work long days, but it’s worth it,” said Gerding.
The wellness plan that he and Surrey staff brainstormed will involve the school’s “Mustang Minutes.” Surrey students report on their school activities during on a private YouTube channel.
“It’s kind of like our student news,” said Gerding.
During the next school year, he said, health will be a big part of the news.
“We’re going to have them report on something healthy every week,” he said.
“Healthy” could mean something nutritional, or a healthy activity, or something focused on mental health.
Wellness is important in other ways at the school as well.
The school district also increased classroom visits by a school counselor who discusses mental health, said Gerding.