Fidelity Investments and Blue Zones Project combine volunteer forces to give Daggett Middle School a Well-Being Make-Over.

Fort Worth ISD’s Daggett Middle School has undergone a metamorphosis. Thanks to community partners like Blue Zones Project and Fidelity Investments, the environment at the once-struggling campus has been transformed in ways that support both personal and academic success.

Not long ago, Daggett Middle School faced significant challenges. The campus wasn’t meeting achievement standards, and school leaders recognized that many students didn’t have the tools to reach their full potential. That’s where community supporters came in. Volunteers took cues from Blue Zones Project’s Power 9 principles for better well-being and set out to transform the school into a vibrant, welcoming environment that encourages Daggett Middle School scholars to blossom.

“We wanted to create a place where students — or scholars as we call them — would come to school and appreciate not just the teachers, but the building,” explained Principal Monica Garrett “We wanted to make this a place where they would be engaged and have a feeling of ownership.”

The make-over was a perfect match for Fidelity Investment’s community engagement goals.  “Fidelity is passionate about supporting education and financial education initiatives, and that means taking care of the whole student,” said Jennifer Gray, senior community relations manager for Fidelity Investments in Texas. “There is a lot of great work going on in the classrooms with mentoring and reading programs, and we wanted to mirror those efforts outside the classroom with transformational projects designed to inspire students.”

It started with a “Right Tribe Zone” in the main office welcoming students and visitors in every language spoken on campus—a “very powerful visual,” according to Gray. The cafeteria was then converted into a “Plant Slant Zone,” with colorful murals and nutritional information. To reduce food waste, Blue Zones Project also set up a Share Table where students can swap whole fruit and unopened snacks rather than discard them.

Murals throughout the campus deliver colorful, positive messages — boosting students’ sense of purpose, another Power 9 principle. Outside, a “Move Naturally Zone” features brightly painted hopscotch, foursquare, and an oversized chess board. Volunteers also furnished and decorated a Downshift Zone in the library to promotes relaxation through yoga and other activities, and installed signage for the school’s new “Family First” resource room to hold classes and facilitate parent involvement.

“Infusing Blue Zones Project’s Power 9 principles around campus and incorporating positive and uplifting messages is going to have a real, ongoing impact,” said Gray. “You can see the change and what those features bring to the kids, in terms of encouraging activity and friendship.”

Blue Zones Project also partnered with the school to encourage walking — both to and from school as well as on campus during the school day. And this year, Daggett introduced a food pantry, the first in the Fort Worth ISD to offer fresh produce. “We know the obesity rate among students who are in lower-income areas is high, because there are not many places with fresh produce and good foods,” explained Garrett. “I thought, ‘Why can’t we bring those foods to our scholars?’”

The outcome is a tangible change in the campus environment. Students are happier and more eager to learn, and Daggett has seen a spike in academic performance.

“Our teachers see the difference, our scholars are seeing it, and our parents are seeing it,” said Garrett. “Word about the Blue Zones Project transformation is getting out. The culture on our campus has changed, and that filters out into the community. We’re all benefitting.”