Mantua School District encourages mental wellness in educators

Mantua Township teachers were provided with the opportunity to unwind as they utilized their in-service day for mental wellness.

Mantua Township teachers are pictured doing an outdoor workout at JMT. (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

In place of their professional development day, the Mantua Township School District gave its teachers time to relax and take time for themselves during Wellness Day at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School on April 25.

Curriculum Supervisor Terry Labbree said it started in 2018 as a district initiative to focus on the kids and emphasize their mental health, and she received surveys back from the professional developmental day that “our teachers were stressed, too.”

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“Last year, it was set up as an all day thing, but this was set up until noon, and they have lunch and they clean out their classrooms and do whatever they want,” said Labbree.

After last year’s run with the wellness day, she said teachers contacted her requesting more things to be available for them to do. This year, she said they added a marketplace for the teachers to shop in, a self-guided walking path and a workout station created in conjunction with a district parent and Melissa Magee, who works at 6ABC.

“I was a teacher for 19 or 20 years as a sixth-grade teacher, and I know how stressful it is for teachers, especially at this time of year,” said Labbree. “They’re doing a thousand things and they don’t take the time for themselves because they don’t have the time.”

She went on to add many of the teachers go home and take care of their families and attend to their needs, but aren’t given the ability to “stop and think about yourself.”

She added in introducing the wellness day to teachers, she requested for them to dress down and be comfortable, even if they’re not working out.

“It’s just nice to see the teachers sitting and talking with one another,” she said. “They’re not in any rush or talking about curriculum, or maybe they are! But it’s enjoyable and relaxed.”

While the day has active or relaxed activities, Labbree said the teachers are still given the typical stations to learn about financial planning and retirement, but it’s not the only thing available.

“One of the stations has journaling where, if you don’t want to do one of the workouts, you can go to a quiet room and journal,” she said. “We have a book nook where teachers can bring their favorite book and read in the library. There’s something for everyone.”

Labbree said every district should look into creating a wellness day for its teachers.

“I think that [the teachers are] grateful that we realize they are equally as important as our children are,” she said. “We’re all in this together and we all have to take care of each other.”

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