Roosevelt Middle School Principal Receives MDPH Leadership and Community Transformation Award

Photos taken by Ron O’Connor

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner’s Leadership and Community Transformation Awards were presented at the 15th Ounce of Prevention conference in Marlboro, MA on October 16, 2012.  Darcy Fernandes, Principal at Roosevelt Middle School, was one of the recipients.  She was recognized for her work in addressing student academic achievement as well as student and staff wellness.

Darcy Fernandes has been instrumental in advancing the notion that “education policy is health policy”.  She has successfully partnered with the City of New Bedford, Mass in Motion New Bedford, and now Mass in Motion Kids, to address issues of obesity and today’s “epidemic of inactivity” by improving the health of students, faculty and staff at the school through increased physical activity and healthy eating initiatives,  including a “Biggest Loser” worksite wellness program for her staff.  She has partnered with two-time Olympian and two-time winner of the Boston Marathon, Geoff Smith, to create a running club, as she says, “not just for the athletic students but for those who believe they can run”.

Darcy has collaborated and consulted with the Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness and its Health Equity Initiative, hosting the “Health Equity:  Our Time is Now” launch of the initiative at the Roosevelt Middle School in 2011 with leaders from federal, state and local government regarding health equity issues in the City of New Bedford.  She has helped open the AMIGOS  Center in partnership with the Immigrants Assistance Center to facilitate the communication challenges between the schools and the non-English speaking students/parents A Multicultural International Guidance Outreach Service (AMIGOS) recruits bilingual volunteers to serve as interpreters and mentors.

Under her leadership, Roosevelt Middle School has recently partnered with Bridgewater State University (BSU) in the Bridge Partnership, a 13-day summer academic program at BSU for New Bedford’s Roosevelt Middle School students that allows students to live in a university residence hall, take day and evening courses with BSU faculty and staff, and tour educational, cultural and historic sites in Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.  The program exposes the students to educational, cultural and social activities that enhance both their self-esteem and confidence in their ability to academically succeed in high school, at the post-secondary level and in adult life.

(Originally posted by d.weed,