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Educator health and wellbeing: Put on your own oxygen mask first

Presenters: Laura Lee Summers, Olimpia Bahena, Kimberly Dennis, Constance Easton, and Eleajah McElroy

May 2 – May 6 is Teacher Appreciation Week and what better way to appreciate yourselves and your colleagues than taking an hour to focus on tips and strategies to promote educator health and wellbeing? These past couple of years have been incredibly stressful and we want to support all educators in taking care of themselves and reducing stress. Our panelists will share their own journeys and how they focus on strengthening and caring for their own needs so that they are healthier and better able to help those that count on them.

 

Participants will:

  • Acquire strategies and resources that promote educator health and wellbeing;
  • Learn about organizing high demands so that they have time for their own wellness; and
  • Identify ways to transfer strategies to support the social and emotional well-being of colleagues and students.
Presenters
Principal at Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy | + posts

Olimpia Bahena has served as principal at Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy, one of the few Chicago Public Schools with a Dual Language Program, for eleven years. Before moving to the United States 28 years ago, Bahena taught French in Mexico. Her first position in the United State was as a bilingual educator in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. She is one of the first Latino educators in Chicago to be Nationally Board Certified. She served as a mentor and instructor for teachers with provisional teaching certifications in Project 29 at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has taught bilingual courses at the Illinois Resources Center and at DePaul University. Bahena has also presented nationally and at international conferences on topics such as dual-language education and professional learning communities.

Kimberly Dennis began her career in education in 2006 as a high school mathematics teacher in Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS). During this time, she served as a new teacher mentor, mentor to high school students hoping to pursue a career working with children, and lead teacher for the Academy of Media Arts and Technology that was embedded in the high school. After eleven years in the classroom and receiving her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012 at Austin Peay State University, she served as a Technology Integration Coach in CMCSS from 2017-2020. As a Technology Integration Coach, Kimberly mentored Technology Integration Coaches that were new to the role. Kimberly began serving as the New Teacher Induction Facilitator in 2020.

Constance Easton is the Coordinator for Mental Health, Social Emotional Learning and Counselling at the Richmond School District in Richmond, BC.  She holds an MA in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia and was a Secondary School Counsellor for 23 years prior to working at the District Level.  Currently, Connie is actively involved in supporting schoolwide SEL and Mental Health Literacy implementation in schools, as well as creating opportunities for youth voice and advocacy in areas of Mental Health and SOGI within the District and with community partners.

Eleajah McElroy is a district coordinator for Mental Health and Positive Student Supports for Griffin-Spalding County School District. With over 15 years of teaching, coaching, and leadership experience, McElroy provides system-wide coordination, guidance, leadership, training, and support to all schools and district for effective implementation of mental health services, crisis prevention and intervention, social-emotional learning , positive behavior interventions and supports, positive school climate, trauma-informed practices, and addressing discipline disproportionality. She has a passion for helping bridge the gap between teaching and learning by providing educators and students with the necessary support to help them be successful.

Laura Lee Summers is an associate clinical professor within the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado-Denver. She is also a digital designer and facilitator for Learning Forward’s virtual course: 8 Dimensions of Educator Wellness and the upcoming virtual course: Adapting Best Pedagogical Practices in an Equitable, Digital Environment. Her most recent publications for The Learning Professional are “The right blend: SEL supports teacher learning in person and online” (August 2020) and “Eight dimensions of wellness for educators” (February 2021). 

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