RIVERVIEW, Fla. — One of the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought for many was a toll on everyone’s mental health, especially teachers. They were forced to reinvent how they teach while also taking care of their own family and lives.
For one Hillsborough County school, these challenges prompted many teachers to quit with little notice.
So, Superintendent of Kids Community College Tim Kilpatrick, decided to address the issues at his charter school head-on. His innovative ideas now seem to be working.
“Being in an industry that is 90% female was that there were some challenges, home life challenges, mental challenges that the women were having that go well beyond what we felt was traditional healthcare,” Kilpatrick said. “So, we wanted a more holistic approach that appreciated every aspect of well-being.”
Kilpatrick’s way of combating these challenges with teachers was by creating a proactive self-managed plan. With the help of President and CEO of Hartin Dynamics Dennis Hartin and Dr. Rahul Mehra, ‘Emotional Vaccines’ for the staff were created.
The program includes a series of brief one to two-minute video messages, delivered weekly, which provide immediate support with simple, action-oriented ideas. Employees can also tailor the program to their needs including receiving tips on topics from health to parenting.
”When you’re just having a bad or stressful day, if we can redirect your thoughts and you have a more, you have a happier day,” Hartin said. ”We want people to kind of be trained psychologically, that every week at a certain time, I’m going to get some video. It’s going to give me some tip of something that I can do.”
Since the program began, the school reported the employee retention rate is improving. In 2019, the charter school’s turnover rate was 18%. After this holistic approach was implemented, it dropped by half and now it stands at 5%.
“What we’re doing that holistic approach to well-being is working and ‘Emotional Vaccines’ is a big part of that,” Kilpatrick said.
The program has been in place for almost two years with employees actively taking part, and Kilpatrick hopes it continues to make a difference.
“Just our way of letting our staff know that we care beyond the classroom,” Kilpatrick said. “We care beyond this every day political argument that folks are having about what this is doing to us. We want to make sure that you’re okay.”
Many other organizations are now using the ‘Emotional Vaccine’ program including the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office which supports the well-being of law enforcement professionals.
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