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#SpotlightOnCLT: Equitable Foundation Supporting Our Local Teachers

As we continue our focus on Mental Health this month, we would like to shine a spotlight on Equitable Foundation and Leah Marone, LCSW, a psychotherapist and Corporate Mental Health Consultant.

Together, along with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools they are focused on the mental health of teachers and have created a pilot program at two schools, Renaissance West STEAM Academy and North Mecklenburg High School, to work with their Beginning Teacher cohort (or those within their first three years of teaching).  Studies have shown that this group of teachers can become frustrated and leave the profession if they aren't being given the right tools from the beginning.

The pilot, available to the schools at no cost, is outlined in 3 parts:
  • Part 1: Includes an assessment and general tips for navigating stress and creating boundaries.
  • Part 2: Provides more one on one engagement with the teachers and Leah to unpack and further discuss some of the topcis introduced.
  • Part 3: Offers fun and engaging team building activities between the Beginning Teacher cohort (0-3 years) and their assigned "mentors".
Equitable Foundation has a long history of focusing their investments to support education initiatives and they feel it is imperative to ensure that our educators' mental health is a top priority.

"The pandemic has certainly caused stress, burnout and anxiety acorss all industries," said Jarian Kerekes, head of Social Impact at Equitable Foundation.  "We are continuing to hear from principals that our teachers are especially at risk.  Our nation's educators are managing heavy workloads and responsibilities, all while navigating the pandemic.  Focusing on their well-being by providing access to mental health experts, professional development and tools to enhance their daily work is important and something we will continue to support through Equitable Foundation."

Leah Marone was the perfect partner to bring in to help with this effort based on her areas of expertise, which are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, grief, and trauma.  When working with corporations and teams on improving productivity, Leah focuses on issues around connection, leadership, and mental health.  She facilities empowerment groups for women and is a contributing blogger for Psychology Today.

Let’s learn more about the work Leah is doing to help Charlotte’s teachers.
 
Q: What led you to focus your work on teachers?
 
Teachers are such an incremental part of our children’s development and nurture the foundation of their communities.  They are not only educators, but they also consistently provide stability and the emotional support that many students do not receive at home.  
 
Many teachers because of their empathetic, caring nature are extremely prone to compassion fatigue and burnout. The past two years have been a rollercoaster of unknowns and adjustments. Teachers and administrators have not only had to navigate and support their students through these changes, but at the same time manage their own mental health and their families. 
 
I am so appreciative of teachers and hope that these sessions validate their role and reiterate the importance of self-care.
 
Q: What are some of the trends you are seeing in terms of Mental Health and the effects of the past two years on teachers?
 
They are exhausted and rightfully so.  Unfortunately, anxiety and depression continue to rise in our students and teachers are on the front line when it comes to supporting them with these struggles.  
 
Many students are behind academically, and behavioral/emotional issues are more so than not getting in the path of learning.  The burnout is real, and educators are finding it difficult to manage their own self-care and pick up the pieces and psychological impacts of this pandemic. 
 
Q: What are some of the key lessons you are helping teachers to understand that could be applied to other caretakers (or nonprofit leaders)?
 
Below are the learning objectives of the sessions I facilitate with teachers. They are applicable to anyone in a caretaking or leadership role as well. Understanding your psychological triggers and behavioral patterns are essential in maintaining boundaries, preventing burnout, and avoiding taking on others’ tasks/emotions. 
 
Individuals with high EQ’s and empathy are more prone to compassion fatigue and internalization. Learning how to effectively listen, motivate, and lead without taking on others’ battles or emotions is key. 
  • Create and maintain personal/professional boundaries
  • Effectively transition from role to role throughout the day
  • Address compassion fatigue by implementing emotional resets 
  • Use a Support and NOT Solve framework when working with students and colleagues
  •  Increase productivity by improving self-care and prioritizing the Four S’s of Structure
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We have so much great news to share from our nonprofit partners about their amazing work. But, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know if you have stories you'd like to tell and we'll make you a guest blogger!!