School, Health and Education

The Center for School, Health and Education

Students in classroom 

The Center for School, Health and Education focuses on the health and social factors that influence educational success and decrease school dropout. School-based health centers have the capacity to benefit all students in a school by addressing barriers to learning.

The Center advances:

  • School-based health centers as uniquely positioned to eliminate or reduce barriers to graduation and reduce dropout for all students.
  • Increased access to physical and mental health care to improve children’s health and overcome social barriers to educational access.
  • The establishment of lifelong healthy behaviors in the school age population.

The Center presents information on key issues that affect the educational success of all students within the school, such as school violence, hunger and obesity, and school climate.


Visit the Center for School, Health and Education website:


School-Based Health Care Creates A Pathway to Educational Success

A core focus of the Center’s work is expanding the impact of school-based health care as a means to improve educational success and prevent high school dropout.

Many things in a student’s life can affect his or her ability to learn.  Some children and teens are confronted with bullying, for example, and don’t feel safe at school or in their communities. Even the best teachers and schools cannot compensate for illness, fear or distress. 

School-based health centers can identify and help address these and other barriers to learning and graduation. In addition to serving as a doctor’s office right in the school, they are catalysts for developing comprehensive strategies that contribute to a healthy climate school-wide, improving the wellbeing and educational success of all students.

For example, school-based health care programs have helped create policies and programs that:
• Reduce bullying
• Put healthier food in the cafeteria
• Address depression and prevent suicide
• Prevent teen pregnancy
• Reduce violence and help students deal with the aftermath of violence

…and whatever else the student population needs to stay in school, do better academically and thrive.

The Center’s Home at APHA

The Center’s location within the American Public Health Association underscores the fact that high school completion is a public health priority. Educational success starts with healthy kids, and kids who complete high school are more likely to have a lifetime of better health and economic opportunities.

“K-12 is the opportune time to establish good health behaviors,” says APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E). “By focusing on this population, we hope to provide our nation’s children with a healthy start in life, and positively impact the health of future generations.”

The Center was established within APHA in 2010, seeded by a two-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to build on the success of the School-Based Health Care Policy Program. Launched by the Foundation in 2004, the six-year initiative accomplished extensive local, state and federal policy changes to stabilize and expand school-based health care. In the time since, federal policy successes have included the adoption of school-based health care as a safety net provider in the 2009 Child Health Insurance Reauthorization Program, formerly SCHIP, and authorization for a federal school-based health care grant program in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the historic health reform legislation.

Now, the Center works to ensure continued funding for school-based health care, and to expand the role of school-based health centers to improve educational outcomes for all students.

Read more about the impacts of the School-Based Health Care Policy Program:

  • Diverse Voices, One Vision Build New School-Based Health Center in Forest Grove, Oregon
  • Youth Leaders Raise Resources and Awareness for School-Based Health Centers

    To read more about the expanded role for school-based health centers, visit the Center for School, Health and Education website at:

    Meet the Center’s Director 

    Terri D. Wright 

    Terri D. Wright is the Director of the newly established Center for School, Health & Education Division of Public Health Policy and Practice at the American Public Health Association. She will provide leadership to the strategic development and integration of public health in school-based health care and education. Her full biography, as well as other staff information is available on the Center’s website.

    For more information, contact:
    Terri D. Wright, MPH
    Director, Center for School, Health and Education