Focusing on teachers’ mental health & wellness

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 7:19 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 12:53 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Pandemic or not there’s a shortage of teachers in Nebraska. Research shows due to stress from the job, one in three educators leave after five years. Now, during the pandemic, mental health and wellness is a priority for area schools.

“Being in education as a teacher is difficult anyways, what we’re facing now more than ever makes it that much more difficult," said Marco Pedroza, Principal Scott Middle School.

Scott Middle School has nearly 1,150 students, and 183 of them are doing online learning.

“Teachers have adapted to what we have to do now for students," said Pedroza. "The concern I have is very much the mental health piece and how much before a burn out.”

To help focus on mental health and wellness, Scott Middle School brought in Jen McNally, Director of Mental Health & Wellness and national speaker. She gave her presentation: When Coffee Isn’t Enough: Strategies for Self-Care and Empowerment.

The first quarter for this school year ended last Friday. One of the teachers navigating in person and online teaching is Paige Suiter.

“This is the first week where I feel like everyone can take a deep breath," said Paige Suiter, Scott Middle School 6th Grade Teacher. "I feel like it took the entire first quarter to get there.”

Suiter said there was a huge technology learning curve with both teachers and students getting familiar with online platforms such as Zoom and Google Drive.

“The first month of school was a lot, and I was working a lot in the evenings and I was working the whole weekend, so I learned after about a month that that wasn’t sustainable," said Suiter.

The 6th grade teacher, wife and mother of two is making changes to her teaching life. She’s choosing to not take work home with her therefore she has to get to school earlier and works through lunch.

“We knew right away that self-care and wellness was something that we need to focus on more than ever this year, and we put that into our school goal very much from the beginning," said Pedroza.

During these times, Scott Middle School is also paying it forward. They sent notes and donuts to Hill Elementary School letting other teachers know they’re thinking of them and going through all of this together.

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