Do not neglect to gather.

Hebrews 10:25

During the pandemic, we were asked to shelter in place to protect ourselves and others during the time Covid-19 was hitting our communities. We developed different ways to work, educate and communicate using technology. However, we missed the face-to-face social interaction and human contact we all need.

We still see hesitation from gathering together as Covid-19 remains a part of the world we live in today. The vaccines, therapeutics, and supports to eliminate this disease are still being utilized, analyzed, and developed to discover how to stop it as a fatal disease.

As a result of this global pandemic, we have seen increases in solitude, isolation, depression, loneliness, and a long list of mental health needs. The focus today is on isolation and seclusion. Why do we pull away from society, churches, organizations, family, and friends?

Traumatic events can cause individuals to feel overwhelmed by the amount of stress, anxiety, and daily interactions with others. It is not always a big concern when individuals pull away. It may be what they need to do because of PTSD or other mental health needs. Long periods of isolation with no interaction with others signal to seek professional help.

Mental health, social-emotional, and overall well-being need to be a priority for everyone. We have all experienced challenges, traumatic events, and high-stress levels and continue to face issues as the crisis effects continue. Development of support, check-ins, small group meetings, positive reinforcements, and daily encouragement will help everyone. If you have not established a way to monitor interactions with others, please do. We must ensure all our staff, students, families, community members, and all those we are connected with are being checked on regularly. The checks need to be regular conversations, visits to homes, going out to shop, eat, or go to the movies. We need to gather together to check on our well-being.

We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:6-8 NIV

I have experienced not one but several traumatic events in my life. During this last experience, I have placed myself in solitude to prevent triggers of memories or feelings from the experience. It takes time to heal, steps to work through the process of healing, and the process of forgiving. A support system needs to be in place to help individuals go through the process. There is no timeline based on the depth and width of the trauma experienced.

Solitude is a choice we make to connect deeper to God, cut out the other noises in life, and focus on our healing. Sometimes situations can choose us for us to make a change in our life. We may find ourselves very active and surrounded by people and then suddenly removed from the workplace. This traumatic switch can push individuals into isolation by force not choice. Then a support system will help individuals bounce back and adjust.

Isolation is often connected with loneliness and thoughts of feeling alone, depressed, and different negative feelings. Our mindset controls the thoughts, feelings, and noise we allow to enter our lives. When we can turn down the sound or the channel, we can find the needed healing to pursue our purpose in life. We can and will move forward. There are many ways to gain support, resources to utilize, and several ways to navigate to the path of your purpose.

Be the solution daily in the lives of others who need to know they are not alone in a world full of noise.

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”-unknown.

When dealing with trauma, difficult stress, and many unknowns, we need to find ways to reduce these levels from harming our health. Many are providing ideas for self-help, but one of the universal ways to help all ages is through art.

Art is an expression of our emotions or a way to release the tensions we have. Everyone is an artist! It is connecting with something you love to do! Like baking, sewing, painting, drawing, construction, being a good friend, solving puzzles, playing an instrument, and my list could go on!

Experiencing art produced by someone else is an opportunity to experience life through their lens, explore their time, learn about their culture and history. Art provides unlimited access to learning if we open our hearts, minds, and imagination.

One of the first things eliminated during educational budget cuts is the art programs. It is encouraging to see more creativity, engagement, and opportunities for expression be included in the offerings for children. Children need hands-on learning with ways to be able to express themselves.

Take away thoughts

Give each staff member or student a piece of paper. (Before you give out the papers decide where this big heart will be displayed. You will have an outline of the heart. Inside the heart will be what the individuals design. You will then place them inside the heart.) at the top of the display will be your title or message. You can use my suggestion above or one you prefer.

Shape your paper to fit inside your heart to equal the number of people making one. The instructions for making the design can be this:

As we begin to work together, we still have Covid-19 and the variant causing health issues. The paper you have provides you with an opportunity to send a message to others on how to__________during this time. Use any prompt you want to help share a message you want and to help others in need.

This becomes more than an art lesson. It is so much more. It is about the history of the pandemic, social and climate changes, power struggles, and dealing with mental health needs.

We have used art (painting, drawing, poems, and other forms) as ways students can open up about mental health suicide, drugs, alcohol, and more. It is therapeutic for all involved.

There are many ways to support others through the use of art! I hope you try out this and other ways to boost support, understanding, and encouragement. Helping to make mental health needs a priority and not something to hide helps everyone.

As a teacher, I had a word wall. It was always fun to add words to our wall. We enjoyed adding the words and randomly selecting a word to use for the day.

Entering into the administrative world, I did not want to leave the teaching fun behind. I added a word of the week in our main hallway. Kids could add sentences to include the word of the week, provide a definition of the word or use it in a joke. I would give prizes to those who participated.

While sitting in the doctor's office, I heard for the second day in a row one of my scary words. That is when I thought everyone needs a scary words box.

Let's think about all of the things we have all been through and how things can pop up by surprise, and boom, fear sets in. If we can allow individuals to pick a scary word or words and place it in a box, we can begin to help them deal with issues together. My first thoughts are of children. It is difficult to talk about scary stuff, but if we have a platform making it safe to do so, then the sharing can begin, along with solutions.

My name is Brenda, and my scary word is cancer. I can write this on a piece of paper. The teacher can give me a chance to share, place it in the box to share later, or put it in the box to be read out loud with no name. Then we can all talk about it together.

You can do this with adults as well. It provides a way to help others safely address issues. Sometimes the scary words need professionals to help, and we need to build up relationships to help everyone understand if the words shared could harm you or someone else, we need to ask for help.

Help your children and staff address issues they are facing. It begins with opportunities to share, trust, listen and find solutions together. Some of the issues we face will need professional help, but it is the comfort we find in being heard and supported.

Words have power. We should always be careful in how we use them. It is also a great reminder to remember; power is given. Give power to your belief in healing, positive thoughts, and in the support you have. As an educator, I worked to help children overcome and prevent bullying. If we pause to look honestly at things clearly, our children are facing bullying on a larger scale today.

Be the solution daily; we need you!

It is time for the truth! To achieve, find joy, and conquer your dreams, is up to.....you! The power has always been with you! We can chase all of the shiny things, try all of the new features out there and surround ourselves with the very best of everything, but it comes down to you.

Jordan is here to see you Mrs. Yoho. “Please send her in.”

“Jordan, how are you doing today?”

“Not very good. I am still not happy about moving; my friends are here, and I don't know what I will be able to do.”

“You know Jordan, I have had to move a few times, and I know it can feel scary. However, I think you are missing out on the truth hidden in this adventure.”

“What adventure? Moving? What truth are you talking about?”

“Well, it took me a few times of moving and also a few hard lessons in life, but I would like to save you by sharing the truth hidden in plain sight. The truth is, you have the power to overcome any situation you encounter. All you need to do is believe in yourself.”

“Mrs. Yoho, you sound a little crazy right now.”

“I know it is hard to grasp, but stay with me on this as I explain. Understanding yourself is your advantage. No one knows you better than you! This gives you the benefit of knowing all of your likes, dislikes, things that make you smile or sad, and what you want to accomplish.”

“I can continue with so much more, but I think you understand the point I am making. You can run away or move away from things, but never yourself. You are with you forever! So you have the power to make it the best!”

“Mrs. Yoho, I do not see anything good about me.”

“Jordan, that is because you are not looking at the truth. I always talk about solutions. You are trying to look through the lenses of everyone else or what you think they see. If you look at everything with a focus on truth and solutions, you will continue to grow to become what you know you can.”

“Do not let the voices of others direct your path. Make sure to make the choices for yourself and always reflect to see if you are achieving what you believe. The truth is inside you! You will achieve so much!”

The path before you is amazing! Believe in yourself! The truth is within you! Sometimes we are hit hard, and our path forward pushes us back. In those times, it is the core of who we are that lifts us to overcome to continue and with determination to see ourselves in the truth of what we can do!

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“Good morning; it is great to see you, Trevor! Love your outfit today, Tiffany! Jozie, I saw you and your aunt this morning.”

Greeting individuals in the morning will help to start the day off right. You can easily see if they are doing okay by taking a quick check by welcoming them. Weekends can be great fun, relaxing but they can also have sadness, struggles in them as well. I use to use this phrase when trying to explain to staff about this topic, “We don't know what we don't know.” We'll; we don't.

This is a true story, and I apologize in advance for my content. Please do not finish reading if you have a weak stomach and a love for animals.

Teaching in my 5th-grade classroom, I had worked to build relationships with all of my students. They felt safe talking with me. A small group came to me and told me they did not know what to do, but a classmate smelled terrible. It was making them feel sick.

I pulled the student during student flex work time and yep, it was awful. I began to talk to him about how things were going with him. He said, “I am having a hard time. Our dog has been missing. It makes me sad.” I am so sorry to hear about your dog. Do you have water at your house? “No.” How do you get your clothes clean? “We have a pile we get them from every day.” Well, you go over to the computer to work and I will see what I can do to help with the water.

I reported to our social worker. She contacted some other individuals and did a home visit. After the kids had left, she came to my classroom to talk to me with the principal. “Did you help them with the water?” We have to tell you about the odor you said the kids smelled. The trailer they were living in was a disaster. The pile he was getting his clothes from found a dog underneath all of it, dead. It had been dead for a while.

I could not speak. I was trying to process what was just said to me. “Mrs. Yoho, DCFS removed the children, and he will not be returning to your classroom. We wanted to talk to you about it first.” Thank you; he told me his dog was missing. I am trying to understand what you have just said, but I am not processing it. My heart breaks for all of the children in the family.

As a new teacher, I learned a lesson from this experience. I needed to check in daily with each student. No, I would not have figured out the details unraveled in the home visit, but I may have discovered sooner about the water issue. My connections with my students needed to be more informed.

Also, I needed to check out with them before they went home. Students throughout the day can have experiences we may not be aware of and addressing them before allowing them to grow bigger.

As an administrator, I used check-in and check-out. I found it to be very effective. At the middle school level, the majority of our students came by bus. I had our administrative team greet the buses and welcome the students each day. We could identify if any of our students were having signs of an off day. We would take a proactive approach to help them.

There are many stories in your journey of life that help provide you with guidance to help others. I will never forget about the missing dog. It is one of those that people would look at you and think, you have made that up. How could you? Who would even think of a story like that?

Check on those around you. Are there people at work you don't know? Why? Be the person to spread sunshine to everyone, but learn how they are doing. If we all help each other, what a better place it will be! Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

Walking down all of the hills to get to our destination was fabulous! Beautiful views of the river! Now going back up will be more of a challenge. Note to self...find smaller hills!

Do you leave yourself notes? Do you keep a journal? How about a daily calendar you put notes on? I have done all three. Do you ever have a thought pop into your head, and you write it down? I do it all the time! The problem is I collect small piles of these notes and try to understand them. It takes a little time, but I get them connected.

I did journal writing as a child, and I loved it. It helped me through many days. Writing is a great way to express and work through issues you may face. As I became a teacher and then an Administrator, I continued to share writing tools with students. I have many stories to share about utilizing writing in many areas. However, I have one that means so much to me.

As a new administrator, I felt very nervous. Everyone was looking, watching, and just waiting for me to make mistakes. I was the Assistant Principal at a 6-8 building, and discipline was all mine.

As an elementary teacher, I knew the majority of the children at the school. I was the teacher who did character education and a lot of positive behavior rewards. I still wanted this to be part of what I did. I enjoyed working with kids!

Things seemed to start on the right foot, and we were making improvements. But I had a young lady who looked sad, missed a great deal of school, and I did not see where she was making any connections with others.

I worked with our county truancy officer to address issues of students missing school. We had several students missing many days; Amanda was one of them. We called her to my office to talk with her, but she was so quiet. Her mother spoke with us and would describe Amanda in ways I did not see or could believe.

Amanda was seeing a doctor and taking medication. My heart was telling me something was just not right. I made a note to self...check on Amanda to see if she would like to Journal with me.

My days were always so full, and I knew I could not dedicate consistent, uninterrupted time with Amanda, but I could journal with her. She had built up a wall, and I understood how she wanted to have a safe place. Journal writing would allow her to write what she wanted to me. Ask questions, talk about things she was thinking and feel safe.

I bought some journals and pens so she could select what she wanted. We worked out a system with my secretary. She would come to pick up in the morning and drop of at the end of the day. We did this every day!

Amanda looked happier, would smile at me in the hallway, and was coming to school. There are many things revealed in journaling, so you have to have a conversation before you start. “If anything written makes me think you are not safe or someone else is not safe, we have to talk to someone who can help.”

Amanda and I both moved to different places. But when I last saw her, she was happier than when I first met her. She learned a skill to help her and hopefully learned others are there to help.

A few years ago, a handwritten letter arrived on my desk from our mail delivery. It was a letter from Amanda. She was finishing nursing school and wanted to let me know she had kept all of the journals we had written together. As the letter continued, she explained that when she was having difficulties, she would pull out one of the journals and read a passage.

“Mrs. Yoho, I want you to know, these journals saved my life. I have felt very low, but these kept me hopeful. Your words gave me the motivation to know I could because you believed in me.”

I have told teachers and administrators Amanda's story. No, not every student is going to write you a four-page handwritten letter, but all of them are worth the power of believing they can do whatever they want to do!

Amanda is doing great! I just received a message response from her. I am very proud of her as she is now continuing to receive a Masters's in Mental Health Counseling.

You do not know the level of impact you have on another life until they tell you. When this happens, it makes you pause and take a deep breath; I wish I could have done more. How many Amanda’s are in classrooms today? Try a journal to start to break down the walls they have built up. Most importantly, tell them you believe in them!

Amanda, in your life, has big hills to climb and needs support. They do not have a choice on which hills or mountains are in front of them. But we have a choice in helping them change their mindset, find resources, and believe. Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

We have a great deal of talk about our environment in the news, especially when it involves a political race. Environmental talk is essential, but actions speak louder. However, the environmental discussion I think is vital for our future is our children's daily exposure in homes and school settings.

“The environment has a significant impact on brain development because the prefrontal cortex takes an extended time to mature. The prefrontal cortex develops from birth through late adolescence. The extended period of development means that experience and environment shape the most vital part of our brains. For similar reasons, school and classroom environments can have immediate and long-term impact on the prefrontal cortex because students are exposed to educational settings for extended periods during their early development.”-The Poverty Problem, pg. 117, Horacio Sanchez

Students in poverty have homes full of stress as they react daily to change. Maybe they have no water, power, food, or clothing. Violence can be a stressor as well. Let’s consider the global pandemic and what this has done to the term “stable environment.” Do we have an environment we can say is “stable” for anyone? I am going to say no, but I am not an expert in the field. However, I have been a practicing educator at different levels for over 25 years, an avid reader and learner. My professional opinion is all of our children have experienced for more than a year now an unstable learning environment even with our best teachers doing all they can!

When our schools, businesses, and way of life are shut down, the reaction creates unstable conditions. We have a rise in depression, suicide, violence, and the list can continue. This makes it difficult to build back a “normal” “stable” environment.

Now is the time to begin to make sure every district, school, and classroom is ready to take on the challenge of establishing better environments to build strong relationships. As vaccines are being administered, guidelines for safety established, and protocols defined, we can provide new environments to support all children.

“The assumption that students from poverty won't succeed at school because of their home lives is not supported by research. Teachers are in an opportune position to provide strong relationship support.” -Teaching with Poverty in Mind, pg 87, Eric Jensen. Relationship Building is our next step in SHARE for our school progress in addressing poverty.

Relationships in school are more than the teacher and student. To make a real impact in relationship building, we must look at all of the relationships that matter in your school. Our last step had us looking at “hard data.” Now is the time to look at your school climate and culture data.

What are the relationships between staff? An essential factor to a positive learning environment is to have a teaching environment reflective of the same. If you have not done so yet, now is a great time to survey staff to see how they feel about each other. I have activities to do to help when you have the results. (Having some difficulty with my website, but trying to resolve it. Could you message me?)

One of the other relationships meaningful to our schools is the parents or caregivers. How are these relationships with their children? Teachers? School? Some things you can control and some things you cannot, but you can control how you respond. One of the biggest mistakes you can ever make is to offend families by telling them how to parent. They are doing the best they can. That being said, there are ways to help provide, guide, improve and build strong family ties.

As a teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal, I have been blessed to build relationships with individuals and families who had no intention of getting to know me. It can be a challenge to break down the walls of fear, resistance, anger, and trust. I am here to tell you it can be done. Do not take things said or done personally. People will lash out when they have nothing else they can do, but in the end, when the wall comes down, you know it was worth it all.

I never thought I would be called on a winter day right before Christmas to our Public Housing complex. I had been there several different times and inside the homes to visit many of our families. Today was different. It was a final call.

I knocked on the door, and one of my girls answered. Her twin sister was just inside; there on the floor was a mattress with their mother laying a top. “Mrs. Yoho,” she grabbed my hand.

I sat on the floor next to her holding her hand: a minister, a lawyer, one of my teachers, and the girls. We had gathered so the mother could sign the paperwork to have the girls placed with my teacher. The mother was dying and was not expected to live much longer. She wanted to thank us for loving her girls and taking care of all of them. We prayed.

ACTION STEPS

Review the environments in your building, classroom

Look at the hard data you have in regard to your climate and culture. Look at the relationships students have with peers.

Check out www.ascd.org/wholechildnetwork

Eric Jensen is one of my favorite authors in regard to the topic of addressing poverty. His approach made a great deal of sense to me. Brain based approach to the problem seemed to be the solution! It made sense to me and still does! There are many more layers to resolve and address, but from the educational lens brain-based is the best!

“Poverty is transforming the brains of children and adults at an alarming rate and with devastating results.” -Horacio Sanchez, The Poverty Problem I just began reading this book, and I will share more from it as we continue to work. Poverty is a problem that has been with us for decades. Our country went through the Great Depression, we have had recessions, and now a global pandemic. I believe solutions have been tried to “fix” the idea that this problem was temporary and was never to be a way of life. Instead we have some “fixed” mindsets we need to address.

Policymakers will have to make some changes as well as some others, but education is the one holding the biggest key to the door to solutions. “The solution to the problem will require creative new strategies firmly rooted in neuroscience research. Education has to have a sound strategy to address poverty that include modifying school climate, instruction, curriculums, social and emotional training and support services.” -Sanchez, The Poverty Problem

Let's start with a school focus first and Jensen’s SHARE factors for school-based. I will remind you they are Support for the Whole Child, Hard Data, Accountability, Relationship Building and Enrichment Mind-Set. As a former principal of a high poverty middle school, we did this book as a staff book study. We did several things to prepare as we went along. I will provide you with all of those materials and updated ones as well. The first step before you begin is to allow your staff time to understand what poverty is, remember the why they became a teacher, how they see students, families and each other. I have activities we will do together and you can do with staff.

Support the whole child. What does that mean or look like? Children right now are experiencing trauma. The world for them has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. They could have stressors from different things; we are never sure. Why don't we ask them? Students are almost always left out of these conversations! It is my biggest plea to everyone, please stop! Education is something we do with children not to them. Survey the children, interview them or whatever you feel is the best way to get the answers. Meet their needs! Let me tell you what I did with the help of my teams.

Our social worker, psychologist, teachers all did some questioning with kids they had relationships with. I spoke to kids and families as well. Then I began to make phone calls to organizations and friends I had within those places. We made space available in our school, created a working schedule and two outside agencies came in to help children. We had a drug and alcohol counselor and a mental health provider. We were beginning to do some solution meetings with the county truancy officer, along with agency help to work with families to get what was needed.

ACTION

Survey or interview students on what their needs are

Connect with outside agencies to see how they can support your school

Establish a family council if you do not have one to find their needs. Check my resource page on my website for materials to help. I will continue to add to the resources on the website.

Thank you for being the solution daily!

March right into a month of opportunities as we kick off the first week in March with Read Across America! Tomorrow we will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess! To find out more ways to support reading in your schools, communities and homes go to https://www.nea.org/professional-excellence/student-engagement/read-across-america

Unlock the door to reading, the key to everywhere!

I love reading! My grandchildren will tell you it is my favorite thing to do and I enjoy reading with them. We have a space created in our home for play, but most importantly plenty of spots filled with books. They have a special carpeted spot on our landing with pillows, crates of books and a big window to look out to enjoy birds, rabbits, deer and any other wildlife that choose to visit.

I have my favorite books to share with them, and they enjoy my stories to go along with why they are special to me. One is The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. I share my friendship with my friend Tammy growing up and how she took such great care of me. It is my opportunity to talk to them about friendship, relationships and how to care for everyone.

As you look at each day, know they mean something in history, culture and to individuals. Maybe it is a celebration of a birth, wedding, graduation or accomplishment. However, it can also be an anniversary of a loss, a rejection, a reminder of something traumatic and sadness. It is up to each of us to learn about those untold stories as a way to support not by asking, reminding, but by showing up and listening.

Social-Emotional Learning, Mental Health, Self-Care are essential to all. Learn how to support, teach, practice and communicate ways to share helpful information to others.

Thank you for #Bethesolutiondaily

March 26th is Social-Emotional Learning Day; find out more information at https://selday.org

It is now approaching more than an entire year of students, staff, families and communities facing Covid-19 with an interruption/disruption to life/school. Soon it will be spring break, then summer and fall. Will we fall back into the uncertainty of knowing how our children will learn in the next school year?

Doors provide shelter and safety from the world. When the door is closed, we are nestled in our comfort to be ourselves and not worry about others. No one can see us, judge or make us feel unsure, or can they? The thoughts from the day are still with us even though the door is closed.

We can look through the window to see the outside world and imagine our lives differently. Our struggle is real, but no one can see, even though the window can show a perfect picture. It is when you look deeper you can find the scars that are always there.

When others ask us, “How are you?” Do you say, I am fine, oh just fine. Never better. When asking others how they are? Do you want an answer other than fine? If you are answering the question, do you ever think of saying something different? The following is one of my favorite songs! I believe it is so true! Many of us say we are fine when we are not. Those of us ask questions like, how are you as a passing gesture but never want to know and support.

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Behind every door, there is a story. Teachers have been able to get past the doors in many homes of students across the nation during this pandemic and this is terrifying for many. Inside the doors are the homes where families built a foundation of safety and trust. Now people are coming into this space and it is not feeling comfortable for anyone. Maybe there is more inside?

Depression is on the rise, and many side effects are happening due to the pandemic, with students staying at home. A great deal of stress and anxiety are in homes. They look at the window with pain and think others are doing better, but in reality, we all feel the pandemic's effects, maybe at different levels, but it is there.

Suppose you are not looking at addressing social-emotional, mental health, and well-being with an equity lens. Then nothing will change and more children will be lost. We cannot focus on academics alone. It is time to make those plans to formulate ways to address these issues for staff, students, families, and the community.

I can speak professionally from experience and as a certified trainer and coach. Also, I can speak personally as a survivor of trauma, living with life-long injuries and dealing with loss due to trauma. There are many steps you can take to support your staff, students, families, community and self. Let's face it, most of the time we forget about the care for ourselves.

However, if we keep the school doors closed, addressing all of these needs will continue to grow deeper. The science we are to follow seems to be transparent in it's indication of face-to-face instruction. The vaccines are being distributed and protocols are being followed.

As an educator, I had many students cross my path with troubles they needed to share. Struggles often more significant than I could tackle alone, but with their permission, we invited in others who could help. I have seen things I wish I could unsee, heard sounds deafening and felt the pain. Hiding behind doors are secrets and stories needing to be told. They look through the windows and look for rays of sunshine to melt the pain they feel. Just as this song echoes the needs of connection as we recover from all of this pain.

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Open the doors to opportunity, hope, learning, collaboration, support, and belonging. Differences are our strength. When we can recognize others as the answer to our weaknesses, we can build a strong partnership to accomplish great things.

I have made some very difficult decisions in my life. After my near-death accident, I ignored doctors and went back to work as a middle school Principal. As I began, I knew it was not the right decision. My Assistant Principal and secretary took great care of me in helping to keep up with my duties. My medical team and I knew it did help to push me through my recovery because of my sense of purpose. But not long into it, I realized I was being compliant and not working at the level of standards I expected. I told my leaders to keep it quiet but I would leave the Principal position at the end of the year. They decided a different plan and I ended up moving to a central office position. It would not be a day to day stress-packed situation.

It worked out fine for me as I continued to heal and even made some improvements with some programming. This seemed to be a good fit for me. Then changes began to happen as my leaders changed. My duties began to increase; communication was not consistent and clear. My injuries began to impact me daily with intensity.

My injuries were not visible. No one could see the pain, the frustration, or notice what was happening I was hiding behind office doors. Then one day, my health reached a point when I would have to tell my Superintendent. I had failed a stress test, and more testing was needed. All of my medications were going to have to be stopped until they could find out what was going on. I returned to my office and gave her a call. I told her I had just failed a stress test and more testing was needed. She told me to come over to her office to talk about it. It took me five minutes to get there. She was gone. The secretary said she had to leave to pick up her son she had forgotten about, but did not say anything about me coming. It was never talked about again or followed up with.

You have staff members afraid to talk, ask or seek help. Please open the door, but most importantly, invite them in to talk. Take time with each one and truly listen to them to find out what is going on. It is so important to keep connected with all of your staff, students and community.

I have more to my story I will share as it did not end with just that no show or concern for a staff member's well-being. I am just finishing up a fantastic book called Love’em or Lose’em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. I think the rest of my story fits in well with this book.

I have one last song that fits with my theme of healing and overcoming. It is more than just overcoming traumatic events in life, hardships, stress or any challenges we face. It is in our power of belief, support systems we have in place and our strength in knowing we are enough with a purpose to achieve! No matter race, religion, gender or economic background, I believe in you!

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"I only have 2 rules!"
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