Kaycee Hasan supports Oakland Academy of Knowledge (OAK) as one of Seneca’s Unconditional Education Coaches, focused on promoting inclusion and wellness for all community members. At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the principal expressed a desire for Kaycee to support staff wellness, acknowledging that educators at OAK were experiencing the challenging transition back to in-person learning after the pandemic, at the same time the school was experiencing a significant redesign. Since that time Kaycee has consistently shared weekly Wellness Wednesday Emails, that address topics such as self care, self nurturing, gratitude, boundaries and joy, while providing practical tips and tricks and activities for staff to engage in. Below is one example of an email focused on gratitude:
Today we want to express our gratitude to you all for showing up everyday, putting your best foot forward, and embracing change. This year has brought many changes for each of us in different ways but each of you continue to show perseverance and fortitude. The consistency in how you show up each day, in your classrooms or amongst your students, is what we are most grateful for. We know that it is not always easy.
We want to invite you all to take a few moments to reflect on what you may be grateful for - specific to your role or the work that you do. If you feel brave, we would like for you to email us back, and let us know the 2-4 things you are grateful for. We would like to put them all together and share them (anonymously) with the campus team.
Fostering a culture of gratitude is something that we are actively working towards. We hope that with time, as a community we can learn more ways to practice gratitude with each other and with the community we serve.
The mind-body connection is strong and as such there are physical and emotional benefits of expressing and practicing gratitude. Gratitude can help to alleviate pain, help improve our health, help us to sleep better, help us to be more mindful of our choices, and help to create long lasting change psychologically (ease depression/anxiety, enhance empathy, enhance relationships).
Please take a few minutes and share what you may be grateful for.
Over time, staff have reached out in appreciation, sharing the ways in which the emails have supported them in the work (see a few examples below!). This practice has also served as an invitation for deeper connection with Kaycee (pictured right), helping staff to feel comfortable seeking out her support in addressing challenges that arise in their work with students. Thank you Kaycee Hasan for serving as an example just what is possible when we create space for staff to feel consistently seen, supported, and valued!
“I just want to take the opportunity to say that I really appreciate getting your wellness emails every Wednesday. For me it is a weekly reminder of how important it is to take care of ourselves in order to serve our students and their families. I have shared with my colleagues how I enjoy reading your messages and how I like implementing some of your self-care activities in my daily life. Once again GRACIAS for making sure that we feel appreciated, that we matter, and that it is essential to take care of ourselves.”
“I really appreciate the Wellness Wednesday emails. The weekly encouragements, affirmations, and reminders always feel like they come at the right time in the week. I appreciate that they are usually brief enough to read when I first see them in my inbox. The reminders to take care of myself come right when I need them, in the middle of the week when I'm so focused on students that I'm often starting to forget to take care of myself. They also remind me that the people I work with are experiencing similar challenges or may also need the same reminders and encouragement that I do. It's fun when there's a reply-all prompts and many people engage.”
“Your Wednesday wellness emails have personally made me feel seen in this work that I sometimes feel overlooked and could become taxing at times. It provides essential reminders to be gentle with myself and to take care of myself so that I am better able to care for others. The consistent reminders are helpful in creating a toolbox for myself and students in self-care. I really do appreciate the wellness Wednesday emails.”
Blog Post Written By: Jenny Ventura, Senior Director of Education Innovation