Making Mental Health a Priority

July 28, 2021
Category:

KCI Health and Wellness

It’s Starts with Saying Yes to You

After this past school year, our team has spent a lot of time thinking about and advocating for teacher health and wellness, and you may have too. Personally, it is as essential a topic as any others that relate directly to classroom instruction, inclusion, and innovation. So when Tom Davis and Jen Gibson told us about their co-sponsored Health, Wellness & Unity Retreat focused on mental, physical, and emotional health of school leaders, we were thrilled to get involved and support them both in their mission!

A Few Days to Dive In

Our team joined fifteen other superintendents and their partners for two days of mindful learning and reflecting. The event kicked off with an invitation to participate in a private biometric evaluation of your physical health. Starting the event with a clear picture of your physical health sets the stage to engage with the other opportunities that were planned. From there, we came together as a group for a motivational talk and a guided creativity session where we were invited to paint and chat with other participants as we allowed ourselves to unwind and relax. 

The next day started with morning activities from hikes to yoga to personal meditation, and we even partnered with the event location’s chef to collaboratively make two sauces for our plant-based lunch. The afternoon moved through more discussions and table talks about the realities of public school superintendency from the very people who walk the talk. At the same time, a cohort of educators were also connecting in a different space to reflect on their own levels of pressure and social responsibilities as the most bizarre year of education just wrapped up. Evening brought more conversations and chances to connect with the beautiful natural setting of Paso Robles. 

The last morning’s programming included a detailed talk about financial and nutritional health of school leaders and continued to connect all participants to solution-providers like the KCI that prioritize the emotional health and wellbeing of school leaders and educators. The concluding gratitude circle was the “cherry on top” that left each of us mindfully motivated to return to the office refreshed and invigorated to continue making our own health and wellness a priority for not only ourselves but our school staff and instructors, as well.

Taking These Experiences Back to Our Communities

So where do we go from here? Thankfully, resources were organized and curated into an online magazine by BUOY Consultants for simple and ongoing access. We were excited to connect with leaders throughout the state who share our passions and also take the time to model healthy living. While we know that setting two days aside for an event like this truly a privilege, the shared sentiment was to actively bring exercises and opportunities like these to our stakeholders.

“Emotional wellness involves your feelings and your responses to everyday interactions. This ‘awareness’ allows you to understand how and why you feel the way you do.”
Jen Gibson – BUOY Consultants, 2021

Starting conversations and bringing the right voices to the table is a great next step, and we are hopeful that we will continue supporting school leaders who attended as well as those we have yet to meet. 

KCI offers customized SEL professional learning programs for schools & districts. Let’s start planning!

Author

  • Cate Tolnai is Director of Marketing & Strategy at the KCI. She promotes the power of student voice, choice, and curiosity through game-based learning and gamification, and she advocates for impactful, responsive professional learning for all educators.