Healthy Children Learn Better: Haley Nelson (M.A., Health Education)

Graduate Gallery 2016

Life Before TC:

As a teaching fellow in rural Yunnan Province, China, Haley Nelson was stunned when her eight and nine year-old students turned down offers of candy, the universal gift of friendship for a child. Then she understood: Their teeth hurt too much to eat it.

“In the community where I was living, there was very poor access to dental care,” recalls Haley. It was just one of “the visible, unmet health needs that I was seeing in my students.”

Why TC:

Haley realized that healthy children learn better than those who are not. The Atlanta native and film production graduate from the University of Southern California turned that observation into a career aspiration and brought it to Teachers College, where she worked on helping to provide preventive health care to children in educational settings. She receives her masters of science in Community Health Education this May.

TC Takeaway:

At TC, Haley worked with the Children’s Health Fund in Harlem, which provides health screenings in public schools and advocates for health care and insurance coverage for low-income children. The Fund’s Healthy and Ready to Learn program performed dental screenings and brought dental services the classrooms. “I’ve been able to take my experience in TC classrooms and get experience in New York City schools,” Nelson says. “Being able to see the challenges and the opportunities of working in a multifaceted way within a school setting has been very formative to my professional development.”

What’s Next:

After graduation, Haley, 26, plans to work for a year or two in a school-based health program, and then pursue a doctorate in public health, education and public policy. Combining those three elements into an interdisciplinary career is her long-term goal.

“The opportunity to explore the issue of health in the school environment from a different perspective is what I’m looking for,” she says.

Published Wednesday, May. 4, 2016

Healthy Children Learn Better: Haley Nelson (M.A., Health Education)

Graduate Gallery 2016

Life Before TC:

As a teaching fellow in rural Yunnan Province, China, Haley Nelson was stunned when her eight and nine year-old students turned down offers of candy, the universal gift of friendship for a child. Then she understood: Their teeth hurt too much to eat it.

“In the community where I was living, there was very poor access to dental care,” recalls Haley. It was just one of “the visible, unmet health needs that I was seeing in my students.”

Why TC:

Haley realized that healthy children learn better than those who are not. The Atlanta native and film production graduate from the University of Southern California turned that observation into a career aspiration and brought it to Teachers College, where she worked on helping to provide preventive health care to children in educational settings. She receives her masters of science in Community Health Education this May.

TC Takeaway:

At TC, Haley worked with the Children’s Health Fund in Harlem, which provides health screenings in public schools and advocates for health care and insurance coverage for low-income children. The Fund’s Healthy and Ready to Learn program performed dental screenings and brought dental services the classrooms. “I’ve been able to take my experience in TC classrooms and get experience in New York City schools,” Nelson says. “Being able to see the challenges and the opportunities of working in a multifaceted way within a school setting has been very formative to my professional development.”

What’s Next:

After graduation, Haley, 26, plans to work for a year or two in a school-based health program, and then pursue a doctorate in public health, education and public policy. Combining those three elements into an interdisciplinary career is her long-term goal.

“The opportunity to explore the issue of health in the school environment from a different perspective is what I’m looking for,” she says.

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