Deb Lary has been teaching students about good phy
sical and mental health – what it entails, how to pursue it, and how to maintain it – since she joined the RUHS faculty in the fall of 1999.
Prior to moving to Vermont, Deb earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Springfield College; taught in the South Hadley, Massachusetts school system; earned her Masters in Health Promotion and Wellness Management (also from Springfield); and taught at the Sleepy Hollow High School in Tarrytown, NY.
“Then I heard about an opening for a Health education teacher at the Randolph Union High School,” she said, “and my husband Mike being from Rochester, VT, we decided to look into it. Well, I got the job and I’ve never looked back.”
“What I’ve really loved about working at RUHS is the opportunity I’ve had to design different health curricula and then teach them. It started initially with basic health classes. But over the years my curriculum has evolved into programs – and philosophies – addressing overall wellness. I’ve been able to introduce students to a more holistic approach for maintaining healthy choices throughout life including activities like yoga, relaxation techniques, and kickboxing. It’s also given me the opportunity to bring students and community members together in and outside the classroom setting such as interviewing the visually impaired and making oral documentary memoirs of their lives or participating in a VTC water aerobic class with students and elders.
“Another middle school program I am especially excited about is one Kara Merrill, guidance counselor, and I developed a few years ago called “Awesome.” Awesome is an acronym that stands for “A Wonderful Exploration Semester of Me!” Through Awesome, we explore some of the more serious issues that nearly every student deals with at one time or another. Issues like relationships, self-image, stress, addiction, peer pressure. Through various avenues of expression like plays and films, students have the opportunity to examine, from a place of safety, the millions of things that are going on in their lives or in the lives of their families and loved ones. Currently, Principal Elijah Hawks and I are team-teaching the RAND (Randolph Area Narrative Documentary) Film class. We are creating documentaries with film maker Scott Miller from the VT Folklife Center, who is paid by grant funds from Prevent Child Abuse. RAND students are given the challenge of addressing youth issues such as drug addiction, teen pregnancy, depression, school drop out, farm life and why youth today do not stay in VT. The important piece of the film is to show the resiliency of youth today and the community resources that are available to help provide the tools they need to maintain that resiliency. We hope to have a public showing of our films in May.
“I’m also in my second year advising the CHILL program with our Substance Abuse Program counselor, SAP, Colin Andrzejczyk . Burton Snowboarding Company is the founder of the CHILL program. CHILL is a six-week curriculum that uses snowboarding to teach life skills and increase self-esteem in a specially selected group of students. The six weekly themes include patience, persistence, responsibility, courage, respect, and pride, and provide a framework for learning and personal growth.”
“It’s really been a wonderful 15 years,” Lary said, “I don’t know of any other system where someone with a degree in Health could have had so much support, flexibility – and fun – doing what she loves.”