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Dear educators: We see you.

Guest author Jill Patnode is a Kaiser Permanente Community Health Consultant serving the Washington region.

Written on behalf of Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools

To everyone working in schools and districts, we see you. We won’t pretend to know how hard the pandemic has been on you personally or professionally. But we see you showing up every single day for our country’s children.

We see you, bus drivers and all those who keep the buses running. Your warm greetings and consistent stops set the tone for the school day.

We see you, front office staff. Your smile is the first one our parents, students, and community members see when they need assistance navigating the school day.

We see you, classroom teachers, substitute teachers, and special education teachers. You understand the toll that the pandemic has been taking on students’ learning and well-being, and you don’t give up.

We see you, school counselors, social workers, specialists, and psychologists. You are the emotional anchors that students, staff, and parents rely on as they navigate a new normal.

We see you, paraeducators. Your flexibility in shifting duties and providing one-on-one support keeps students emotionally and physically safe.

We see you, nutrition staff. The importance and challenges of your role as a food lifeline and builder of healthy nutrition habits for our children is unquestioned.

We see you, school nurses. You stepped into the role of first responder for students and staff and kept us grounded in science and healing.

We see you, custodial staff. The long hours you’ve spent keeping our schools clean is helping to keep our children and staff healthy.

We see you, district office staff. You keep schools running smoothly so staff can focus on teaching and students can focus on learning.

We see you, school and district leaders. Your leadership has been put to the test during a pandemic, and you have risen to the occasion. School buildings were closed, and our entire society learned the incredibly important role that schools play in health and well-being for everyone.

It’s okay to feel tired and stressed, hopeful and happy, fearful and angry, and fragmented all at once. You are an authentic role model in the eyes of your students, colleagues, and your own families! As you continue to juggle challenges — and possibly face burnout or even physical illness due to the stress — you know it’s going to take more than just meditating, eating right, and exercising to feel better. It’s going to take all of us coming together to transform education so that it centers the total health and well-being of staff and students in perpetuity.

Kaiser Permanente offers tools to support you. Below are a few no-cost Thriving Schools resources to ensure that all teachers, staff, and students have the support they need to thrive — in learning and in health.

We see you. We appreciate you.

Resources for you and your colleagues:

Filling Your Cup: Comprehensive Self-Care Strategies Curriculum*
A 4-part on-demand training series packed with tools and resources to help school staff focus on their own well-being. For the team setting, use this guide to facilitate discussion and follow-up activities.

Trauma-Informed Care and Educator Well-being e-Learning from Ready, Set, RISE!  
An innovative curriculum dedicated to revealing the truth about trauma and its lasting impacts and providing trauma-informed educational methods that promote a positive classroom environment.

Rest and Revive Sleep Management Toolkit
Help your employees get healthier and sleep better with this no-cost, 6-week program. The toolkit includes a 4-step model for launching your program, plus promotional materials to keep your employees engaged, focused, and motivated.

Resources for leaders and policymakers:

Thriving Schools Integrated Assessment*
The Thriving School Integrated Assessment was developed for schools and districts to advance wellness and educational goals by incorporating health-related strategies for students and staff into school and district improvement efforts. The Cultivating Staff Well-Being topic area will specifically help you identify strengths and opportunities.

Resilience in School Environments: Understanding and Practice (RISE UP)
This virtual, mental health and resilience professional development program, for school staff, is part of the Thriving Schools Resilience in School Environments (RISE) initiative. Participants learn techniques for self-regulation and stress-management and have the opportunity to build supportive relationships with their fellow educators.

10-Year Roadmap for Healthy Schools — Coming Soon
The National Healthy Schools Collaborative, a collective impact group of well-established, nationally recognized health and education organizations created a roadmap for the future of healthy schools. The opportunities outlined in the roadmap challenge us to reconsider existing paradigms and offers specific recommendations to meet the academic, mental, social-emotional, and physical needs of all students, families, and educators. We hope it will generate conversation in local communities that inspires action. Stay tuned to the Thriving Schools website for forthcoming publication.

*To access, create a free account for the Healthier Generation Action Center.  

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