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Wellness program helps to restore school staff mental health

Osseo Area Schools staff is partaking in Nurturing Everyday Wellness, a program that aims to teach skills to navigate mental health challenges.

OSSEO, Minn. — The world of education has seen dramatic changes over the last two years.

Teachers have had to adjust to online lessons, going back to in-person learning, switching again to some form of hybrid learning — and then again shifting back to in-person.

Trying to find the balance of teaching the standards while making personal connections has taken a toll on many.

However, one metro school district is working to help restore that balance. 

"The number of days of education and teaching and learning that has been missed has been dramatic," said Tony Dylong, a teacher at Osseo Area Schools.

Dylong has been a teacher for 23 years. He says the last two have been... something. 

"Knowing your lessons, understanding the curriculum, knowing the standards, being able to deliver that, being able to connect with your students — the relationships that go along with that — and when the pandemic hit, all of that kind of got skewed," Dylong said.

The district he works for understands that and started a program to help any employee take care of their mental health.

"When our staff feels supported, both mentally and social emotionally, they are able to support our scholars, and ultimately at the end of the day, that's our goal," said Jill Lesne, assistant director of student services at the Osseo district.

Nurturing Everyday Wellness is a six-week program run by the Lee Carlson Center, which aims to teach skills and concepts that can help navigate what has been a fairly difficult time.

"The wellness groups are focused on stress management, mindfulness, gratitude, self-compassion... Some of the really helpful things that we know in the mental health community can combat that stress and help bring people together," Katie Rudek, director of school based mental health at Lee Carlson Center, said.

Rudek created the center's new wellness program, and has led groups in Osseo.

The program is at no cost to staff and anyone can take part. Dylong hasn't been through the program yet but is thankful it's an option. 

"Because when you have teachers who are confident in their ability and they are feeling like what they are doing is meaningful — and they're getting the results and feeling good about themselves — obviously, that's going to have a great impact on student learning," Dylong said.

If you'd like to find out more about the program, click here.

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