New program emerges in Newark that helps teachers deal with stress and anxiety

ByCindy Hsu

With students back in school, there’s a lot of focus on their mental health.

Well, a local educator has created a program in Newark to help teachers who are often overlooked when it comes to dealing with their stress and anxiety.

CBS2’s Cindy Hsu has more on how the program is helping to heal.

Teaching is one of the toughest jobs around. Just ask Patrick Bartheleny, a ninth grade English teacher at KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy.

“I think that everyone can tell you that teaching is draining, right? You put a lot of time and energy into it and it’s a lot of mental capacity being poured into your students and the work. So the past two years it’s really taken a toll on myself and I’ve seen on others in the building as well,” Bartheleny said.

A lot of teachers burn out and end up quitting, so former special education teacher Dr. Wenimo Okoya created the Healing Schools Project last year.

It’s a program that focuses on the well being and mental health of teachers.

Hsu watched as they took part in what’s called a healing circle, where teachers can connect with each other, sharing their concerns and coming up with solutions. The program also includes guided meditation and workshops creating community care so teachers feel supported.

“Self care puts a lot of the onus on the individual and it doesn’t consider the context that people are living in. Self care in some places requires a lot of privilege, a lot of power, a lot of access, but with community care it only requires you to me, person to person,” Okoya said.

Sharmaine Lewis is school leader at KIPP Academy.

“I love teachers. I wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old, and now in my current role I know my job is to take care of teachers so they can take care of our students,” Lewis said.

Read the full article here.