Monday, August 29, was the first day of school for San Diego Unified School District. Photo by Chris Stone
Monday, August 29, was the first day of school for San Diego Unified School District. Photo by Chris Stone

Eighteen schools in the San Diego Unified School District have been awarded the distinction of America’s Healthiest Schools for their dedication to supporting the health and well-being of students, staff, and families.

“As a district, we are committed to supporting the health and wellness of our school communities,” Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson said. “These awards are a testament to the great work our schools do in this area, ensuring students’ needs are met so they can learn, grow and thrive.”

Presented by Alliance for a Healthier Generation, America’s Healthiest Schools is a prestigious, annual award for schools that have demonstrated remarkable efforts to prioritize the essential health needs of their school community.

This year, schools were recognized in nine categories, including Strengthening Social-Emotional Health & Learning, Cultivating Staff Well-Being, and Increasing Family & Community Engagement.

All San Diego Unified schools meet district-level criteria for the district’s strengths in nutrition and food access, local wellness policy, and school health services. However, the 18 schools that received an award met or exceeded best-practice standards in one or more topic areas related to the physical, mental, and social-emotional health of students, teachers, and school staff.

For example:

  • Benchley-Weinberger Elementary School increased family and community engagement with Zoom home cooking night demonstrations.
  • Edison Elementary School enhanced social-emotional learning by utilizing a learning program that teaches various social and emotional skills and prioritized staff well-being by implementing a staff “shout out” board where staff can recognize their colleagues.
  • Mt. Everest Academy strengthened the social-emotional health on their campus by offering students and staff a calming space in their newly-created zen meditation garden, featuring a vegetable and herb garden, bird feeders, chimes and gongs, couches, water elements, and affirmation signage.
  • Ocean Beach Elementary School improved physical activity during the school day with a physical education program designed to keep students moving in their classes and utilized older students as “exercise captains” to support younger students.
  • TRACE Alternative School cultivated staff well-being by incorporating “wellness gratitude” icebreakers in their meetings and by providing staff with resources from community partners to combat stress.

The 18 San Diego Unified schools being recognized are among the 406 schools nationwide awarded this year. Healthier Generation’s list of America’s Healthiest Schools remains one of the country’s longest-running, nationwide recognition programs honoring schools for achievements in supporting the whole health of students, teachers, and staff.

“As we enter what is predicted to be another challenging school year, we commend the awardees for their resourcefulness and dedication to addressing the acute health and well-being needs of students, staff, and families,” said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at Healthier Generation. “This cohort of schools exemplifies the fortitude required to serve current and future generations with empathy and care.”

To view the complete list of awardees, visit