“Choose to Thrive in #205” was a professional development event for Galesburg CUSD #205 educators to learn social and emotional wellness strategies.
GALESBURG, Ill. – The Galesburg Community Unit School District 205 is working to maintain the mental and physical health of its educators by hosting an educator wellness event, “Choose to Thrive in #205” on Saturday. March 26.
The professional development day included sessions that taught strategies to enhance personal well-being, as well as skills around social and emotional learning that can be taught in the classroom.
“Our teachers do so many special and amazing things for our students, and today we want them to learn things that they can implement in their classrooms to support their students, as well as themselves. “said Mindi Ritchie, Director of Student Success. and support services for the district. “We want them to leave feeling refreshed, feeling cared for…and filling their cups like they do for our students every day.”
Various sessions throughout the day included ‘Finding Your Joy!’, ‘The Cost of Caring’, ‘Yoga for Stress Relief’ and ‘Is It Just Me, Or Does Everyone Look Crazy? have ADHD these days?
Alicia Condreay is an outreach worker for the neighborhood. Before that, she was a teacher for 18 years.
“I was really worried. I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “And I will say my first session after the keynote speaker, I felt a lot of energy.”
One of the sessions she attended was “Finding Your Joy!”
“It was like the reveal of the day,” Condreay said. “A lot of things she had said, I think I knew subconsciously but it just brought it out. So one was what is your passion? As an outreach worker, every day I try to helping others, and sometimes I forget, like I need to help myself before I can help others. So when I leave today, I’ll try to figure out what exactly my passion is and take more time for me.
With the stress educators are under, she said a day like this was really needed.
The pandemic has caused teacher burnout across the country.
Illinois public schools reported 4,120 vacancies for the 2021 school year, the majority of which were for teaching positions, according to the State Board of Education.
RELATED: ‘People Are Burned Out’: IL Schools Staffing Shortages Leave Teachers Burned Out
Additionally, a 2021 survey from the Association of Regional Superintendents of Illinois Schools found that 49% of respondents say burnout has led to increased turnover.
During “Choose to Thrive in #205”, small businesses in the Galesburg area related to wellness, such as boxing and painting, were also asked to inquire.
“We’re taking this opportunity not only to provide this great professional development, but also to give them the opportunity to feel valued, to collaborate with peers, to socialize with peers, something that we haven’t been able to do, really none of us, in a while,” Ritchie said.
Condreay said she enjoys spending this time with other teachers. Many of them spent time discussing the sessions and sharing their various takeaways.
“It’s important for us to know that we’re all in this together,” Condreay said. “We all experience stress in so many different ways, and that’s okay. I mean, rely on each other.”
Ritchie and Condreay hope Saturday’s “Choose to Thrive in #205” won’t be the last.
“We need it,” Condreay said. “In so many different ways, not just because of what we’ve been through since March 2020 with COVID-19, but it’s something that I think every educator in any aspect of the teaching world can benefit greatly. This being our first, I hope it won’t be the last.”
Ritchie already has ideas for what they can do for next year’s event. She hopes it can be extended to people other than educators and possibly to people outside the district.
About 200 Galesburg CUSD #205 educators attended Saturday.