I feel so lucky to teach in a school district where I work with some of the best people, professionals and friends I could possibly imagine. However, establishing that relationship doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of work. It takes a great deal of putting yourself out there to colleagues and making yourself somewhat vulnerable. A great example of this positive colleague relationship building happened tonight in our town.
It all started last February vacation when I saw an interview by ABC’s Diane Sawyer with the mother of Dylan Klebold. Dylan was one of the two Columbine High School shooters. It was the first time that she had ever been interviewed and a great deal of the interviewed dealt with Dylan’s obvious signs of anxiety and depression. I was so moved by the first few minutes of the interview, that I rewound it and started it over. I took out a notebook and started jotting down notes and thoughts. That minute, I also texted a colleague (one of the most kid centered and positive people I know) and told her all about it. You can watch full video here
From that night until tonight, a group of my colleagues and friends created a community wide “Youth Mental Health Awareness Night”. We met several times. My colleagues were supportive and excited about the idea. We lined up local mental health resources. We set up a panel of four mental health professionals or those familiar with mental health. There was a brief presentation by two of my friends and colleagues that gave an overview of anxiety and depression. I facilitated the questions as the panel was answering them. It was awesome!
Watching both the personal and professional discussions before, during and after made me so grateful for the town and colleagues I get to work with. From an idea to a full blown event with about 30 participants, it was great. We had our district’s Assistant Superintendent present as well. She is so committed to our kids and our district that she made it there.
If the above doesn’t sound like the place you work or you might not have the same the support, I challenge you to create it. Reach out to positive colleagues. Work collaboratively surrounding something. Make your own amazing experiences. If this does sound like where you work, all the better. Use the power of amazing people to reach out and make your school or community even greater!