MEDWAY — Superintendent Armand Pires is pleased to announce that Director of Wellness Dr. Ryan Sherman has been named the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (MIAA) Wellness Coordinator of the Year.
MIAA’s Wellness Coordinator of the Year award recognizes an individual who goes above and beyond to promote wellness in their school community, is a positive role model, and whose students benefit as a result of his/her efforts to keep young people safe and substance free.
Dr. Sherman was honored by the MIAA at a reception on Monday morning at Medway High School.
“Ryan has had a lasting impact on our district and the wellbeing of our students and staff. His comprehensive approaches to pursuing progress and addressing challenges has allowed for significant change that will benefit our school community for years to come,” Superintendent Pires said. “We are fortunate to have him as a part of our district, and I am pleased to see him recognized for his leadership, expertise and dedication.”
Dr. Sherman has served as the Director of Wellness for Medway Public Schools since July 2017 during which time he has fostered many changes within the schools. He is the first person to hold the Medway Director of Wellness position that focuses on the implementation of the ASCD Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model, which focuses on the child, stresses a school-wide approach and recognizes health, learning and the school as being a part and reflection of the local community.
Dr. Sherman’s most notable impact within the district has been his work regarding student mental health. He has been able to implement supports and programming around mental health to support students through education, intervention and access. This comprehensive approach has included engaging a referral service for all members of the community to assist with navigating the mental health provider system, embedding private mental health services within the schools, expanding programs like the Signs of Suicide, and implementing the NAN project that promotes mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs for young people.
Dr. Sherman also recently spearheaded a partnership with the JED Foundation, further enhancing the supports available to address student mental health challenges.
In addition to this work, he supported an employee wellness program to provide ongoing support to all employees in their health and wellness. He also advocated for the implementation of an elementary health program, which was implemented in 2018. He has led the district in embedding social-emotional learning programming, including the adoption and implementation of Responsive Classroom at both elementary schools that encourages consistent language, experiences and expectations throughout the schools that students can understand and use to connect with one another.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sherman assisted in the district’s response by helping to bring regular COVID-19 surveillance testing to the schools and worked with the Boston University School of Public Health to create a health metric to communicate data to the school community.
Finally, while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sherman formed a Drug-Free Communities Steering Committee to move forward with the development of a structure, mission, vision and bylaws around student alcohol and drug use prevention. As a result, Medway was able to apply for — and was recently selected to receive — the six-year, $625,000 Drug-Free Communities grant. The grant aims to provide coalitions with funds to strengthen relationships with local community partners and implement different strategies and programs that are designed to reduce youth substance use rates.
“The MIAA Wellness Coordinator of the Year Award is presented in recognition and appreciation of tireless commitment and dedication to help students make healthy life choices,” MIAA Associate Director Peter Smith said. “Ryan Sherman is an outstanding example of such commitment and dedication through his work in implementing mental health programming, an employee wellness program, an elementary health program and social emotional learning for the Medway Public Schools. Ryan has gone above and beyond to make a positive difference in the lives of students and the MIAA is proud to present this award to him.”
Nominees for the MIAA Wellness Coordinator of the Year award are submitted to the MIAA and the recipient is selected by the MIAA Educational Athletics Staff. The award has been presented annually since 2002.