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Awesome People You Should Know: Dr. Cara Grant
In our regular “Awesome People You Should Know” feature, Teaching Health Today will be shining a spotlight on health educators, speakers, lesson creators, leaders, video makers, authors, and advocates. Do you have a suggestion about who we should feature? Use this quick form to tell us about them!
Dr. Cara Grant
Meet the amazing Dr. Grant, the new President-Elect of SHAPE America, the nation’s largest membership organization of Health and Physical Education teachers. She’s one of the leaders shaping the future of health education in our country.
What kind of work do you do?
I work for Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest school district in Maryland. I’m the supervisor for PreK-12 Adapted Physical Education, Health Education, and Physical Education in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs.
How did you get to this place in your career?
I started out as a health and physical education teacher straight out of college. Then my department leader/mentor encouraged me to step into leadership roles. He told me, “You won’t be here long.” He helped me learn how to run a department, including me in his summer health/PE teacher leader meetings and sharing curriculum writing opportunities in the summer. I went on to lead a few health and PE departments in my school district.
The curriculum writing opportunities opened my eyes to central office positions (which I had no interest in, given their political nature, and because I wanted to work directly with Prek-12 students).
Years later, my mindset shifted and I took a role as a physical education and health education content specialist. In this position I was fortunate to be mentored by two Health Education/Physical Education/Adapted Physical Education content supervisors with very different leadership styles. As a result, I felt competent and confident to apply for this current position and have been in this work for 10 years.
Now I also teach part time at University of Maryland College Park Program Coordinator for the Master’s Degree with Certification in Physical Education. I started doing that to sustain the Physical Education Teacher Education program at University of Maryland, and was coached into this by a great colleague and mentor. I fell in love with working directly with physical education majors as a constant reminder of my “Why” for teaching: mentoring students.
What’s something you love about doing this work?
I absolutely love mentoring and coaching teachers and providing them with current and relevant skills and information.
I love being able to connect directly with content matter experts in government agencies to gain data and resources to pull into classroom instruction in Prek-12 Health and PE and higher education.
I love being able to develop curriculum resources that include all students through an equity, diversity, and inclusion lens. I like to see the intersectionality of many components as they impact access to our content and how students navigate the world applying health literacy and physical literacy skills.
What makes you hopeful about health education right now?
A deep dive and relentless focus on serving all students from an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion lens.
The application of health literacy skills for students to access and apply no matter what the health challenges and risks are that they navigate.
What do you wish people were focusing on more?
I’d like to see more people making the switch to skills-based health education. Teaching content knowledge isn’t enough anymore - we should be focusing more on health literacy skills.
Additionally, I wish people were focusing more on social determinants of health as they link to health disparities - specifically by race.
What’s a key message you want young people to hear more in school?
You are seen.
I hear you.
I believe in you.
Keep asking for what you want until you are heard.
How can people learn more about or follow your work?
People can connect on Twitter: @CaraGrant11
What are three resources you'd like every health educator to know about?
Video: What is Intersectionality?
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