Dear Friends,

Can a first-grader learn to read when her poor eyesight makes the letters on the page look blurry? Can a ninth-grader focus on solving an algebra problem with a stomach rumbling from hunger?

Every school day, educators across Tennessee see students who are struggling to learn while struggling with health issues. Research supports their field experiences: There is an undeniable connection between health and education.

On Monday, August 28, SCORE will partner with NashvilleHealth for Better Health, Better Learning: A Conversation on Tennessee Student Success. This one-day summit in Nashville will explore the relationship between student health and academic achievement, highlight promising practices in Tennessee and across the country, and share ways to advance student health and education outcomes.

Senator Bill Frist, MD, has been interested in the intersection of health and education since he founded SCORE in 2009. Senator Frist is taking a leading role at the summit, joined by education and health experts – including Dr. Jill Biden, Dr. Richard Besser of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Dr. Lillian M. Lowery of The Education Trust.

In advance of the summit, SCORE released a report that explored the research on improving student health and academic success. Education stakeholders will be interested to know that research shows that physical activity, nutrition, and overall well-being can have a profound effect on student achievement, while high-quality education and academic achievement are associated with improved health throughout life.

Tennessee already has been innovating new approaches to improving student health to improve student learning, with efforts such as the Coordinated School Health program. And we have proved that with focus and determination, our students are capable of unprecedented growth in academic achievement.

Think how powerful it will be when new efforts on both fronts fuel both better health and better learning. The work begins at the Better Health, Better Learning summit, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Very truly yours,