The Palmyra-Macedon Central School District’s Wellness Committee is a source of energy and excitement. Annual offerings include at least two large-scale challenges — the 2016-17 school year featured The Biggest Loser and Healthy Habits — and an Employee Wellness Day that connects staff to community services and lively activities. The committee also advocates for preventive health services such as biometric screenings, telemedicine and flu shots. The wellness co-coordinators who led these efforts are health teacher Stacia Santelli and high school nurse Deborah Matzan.
Before Matzan came to Pal-Mac five years ago she worked as an insurance nurse for about nine years. When she started at Pal-Mac as the high school nurse and wellness co-coordinator, she found an uplifting environment.
“You meet so many different people,” Matzan says. “It’s all very inspiring to hear these transformative stories. And [Smola Consulting Wellness Consultant]Rick Admundson is so motivating and positive.”
Matzan has her own health challenges that she’s working to overcome. She has high blood pressure and is carrying extra weight. But being the wellness co-coordinator gives her access to information and resources, and she’s an active participant in all wellness challenges and activities.
As a mother of two — Anthony, 14, and Aubrey, 12 — a full-time employee and a caregiver, Matzan has always put herself last. But she has learned that taking care of herself first makes her a better person.
“I want my kids to have a healthy lifestyle as they grow older,” she says. “You can make time for yourself.”
Now Matzan eats healthier and exercises more. She enjoys gardening with her husband, Greg, and canning their goods.
“I love beets,” she says. “I can’t get enough of them.”
She also walks regularly, and on a recent trip to the Adirondacks took advantage of access to canoes as much as possible. In contrast to her previous job that demanded a lot of sitting, Matzan now uses a standing desk.
“We have at least 12 standing desks now,” she says. “People are happy and excited about it, especially those in administration.”
As a result of Matzan’s efforts, she’s been able to eliminate one of her medications. She continues to make diet changes and is determined to eliminate her need for blood pressure medication.
In 2006, Stacia Santelli was a health teacher and the district's lead teacher for health and family and consumer science. At that time, Pal-Mac had a wellness policy, but it needed some updating. Santelli took on that challenge and started the district wellness program, but gives Wellness Is Now much of the credit for pushing the Wellness Committee forward.
“We get support from other districts and learn about their initiatives,” she says. “We get great resources, incentives and information. Plus, there are valuable preventative health topics to incorporate.”
Santelli has been a longtime advocate for a healthy lifestyle. In high school she played soccer, basketball and softball, and she’s certified in health and physical education.
That love for an active, healthy lifestyle still plays a strong role for Santelli. She and her husband, Chris, have two children, Tyler and Jenna. Santelli
coaches their basketball teams and, in the past, has helped coach Jenna's soccer team and Tyler's baseball team.
As for her own workouts, Santelli has made them teaching moments. Fitness Mix is a physical education elective she designed that incorporates a variety of activities outside of sports including Zumba, yoga, water aerobics and boot camp, to name a few.
“I wanted to teach the kids that there are other ways to be active in sports,” Santelli says.
Of course, that means Santelli is working out right alongside her students during the classes. She also enjoys walking and Beachbody on Demand workouts. And, as expected, she is an enthusiastic participant in the wellness challenges she helps organize for the district staff.
“I’m busy,” she says. “And I’m thankful we have support to keep things fresh. It reinforces how important everyone’s health and wellness really is.”