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By Lonnie Huhman,

Lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com

Opening day in the Chelsea School District this year was all about the staff, specifically the health and wellness of those who have the important jobs of delivering the best education environment.

Held on Aug. 27, the day was a lead up to the new school year and saw the staff from all of the schools in the CSD come together to focus on wellness. The day included speakers and a variety of activities, including the end of the day that saw the staff members writing an encouraging or inspiring word or two on the large rocks outside in the arbor area of the high school.

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The portion of the day called CSD EdTalks, held in the CHS auditorium, had CHS Assistant Principal Luman Strong introducing the speakers. He said this portion was about hearing personal stories from some staff members and the speakers would highlight some accounts that demonstrate thinking about well-being and resiliency.

The speakers were CSD Athletic Director/CHS assistant principal Brad Bush, CSD Social Worker Mara Goodman, North Creek Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher Amy Proos and South Meadows Elementary School Teacher Jeanne Caselli, who presented with her husband, Tony.

Resilience is defined by the American Psychological Association as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Bush recounted growing up in a tough environment and overcoming personal challenges, and then later on going through more challenges when his son was dealing with health issues as a child. Bush said he learned along the way about resiliency, attitude and perspective.

He said seeing his son’s strength in facing the challenges and his wife’s positive perspective taught him a lot about life.

In talking to the gathered staff, he said, “All of us come from different struggles.”

However, he said as educators they are all called to serve and help young people. He said they can choose the attitude they can bring to their roles in CSD.

CSD Superintendent Julie Helber said the goals for the day, “were to provide our staff with an opening day that focused on their health and wellness.”

“We know that we are better for our students and our family when we are healthy, happy and well,” Helber said. “How we respond to setbacks is a reflection of our wellness. We want our staff to know that we value self-care and believe that they need to prioritize their health to meet the needs of our students in the classroom.”

During her talk, Goodman said they can work to build resiliency in the schools through practicing mindfulness and helping the students feel connected. She said good relationships are essential for kids to feel supported.

“The most important thing we can do for our students is to really be there for them,” she said.

Proos, in talking about her difficult upbringing and how her mother inspired her to achieve and work toward earning an education, and the Caselli’s, who recalled Tony’s life-threatening health issues and how they got through it, both said support from others, whether family or those in the community, plays a big part in making an environment helpful and positive.

In follow up to the day, Helber said, “I believe our staff felt empowered and valued.”

“This day was for them and about them and I believe we were able to communicate that through the activities this morning,” she said. “The support we received from our community was incredible and we cannot thank them enough. We are all very excited for the 2019-2020 school year.”

As part of opening day, Chelsea School District staff wrote messages of encouragement and inspiration on some big rocks outside the high school.
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