The arrival of COVID-19 has added to the stresses of teachers in classrooms as they juggle more responsibilities in uncertain times.
For teachers in the Bethel Local Schools, a new program coordinated by a district social emotional awareness counselor targets the wellness of teachers through distribution of new wellness care packages made possible, in part, by a Tipp City Foundation grant.
“This idea stemmed from the realization that teachers all over are once again being asked and expected to go above and beyond their training and contract hours to meet students’ needs,” said Sara Davidson, social emotional awareness counselor for the Bethel Elementary Building serving students in grades kindergarten-5.
“In order to retain our amazing staff, they need to feel supported and taken care of as well,” she said.
In the program, the teachers each month will receive a package with a different focus. “Some months the package will focus on boosting their self-confidence as teachers, others will include tools to manage stress in the classroom, and others will include items to promote positive mental health outside of the classroom,” Davidson said.
The first packages were scheduled for distribution this Thanksgiving week. Among key goals is to avoid teacher burnout.
“The hope behind the grant is to provide the staff with a package that will boost different aspects of their mental well-being each month,” said Elementary Building Principal Jodi Petty. “Some months will boost their self-confidence; other months will give them tools to let out their emotions and some months the package will include items that they can use at home as well. The hope is that staff feel supported and encouraged through this grant.”
The grant request was described by foundation member Heather Bailey as “out of the box thinking … creative, thoughtful, wellness centered, COVID-responsive.”
Davidson is one of two social emotional awareness counselors in the Bethel Schools. The other serves the middle and high schools, Petty said.
When Davidson proposed the grant application as a way of meeting added staff needs during the pandemic, school administrators were on board, Petty said.
“We all agreed that that social emotional health of our staff is directly tied to meeting the needs of students. Any time a person feels supported and has a place to turn for additional help, the quality in their role at a school increases,” she said. “One of the positive aspects of the pandemic has been the awareness of how much we really depend on one another during times of crisis. Our staff and overall school community has been brought closer together during this pandemic.”
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