The Devereux Glenholme School is a therapeutic boarding school in northwestern Connecticut. During these difficult times the common question always comes up “How is the Glenholme school supporting its staff emotionally so it can continue doing its work during this time?” Educational and clinical services are being provided virtually to students with strategies being devised, revised and improved daily. Teachers are alternating one week on campus and one week working from home.
Reassuring staff that they are needed now, and that their positions are secure occurred early on in the pandemic. The music teacher’s broad knowledge of popular music has now been put to use as he collects and sends out uplifting musical tracks each morning to staff and students. Students and staff also make suggestions for songs they would like to see as the “Song of the Day.” The movement and dance therapist is creating “moving moments videos” twice a week. These incorporate yoga and stretching and encourage staff at home to move their bodies. For two hours each day, there has been a Virtual Staff Lounge for staff to drop in and connect with each other. The change in structure has had an unintended positive outcome of allowing staff members to meet others with whom they normally never see across disciplines and shifts.
Glenholme incorporates mindfulness with its students. The Clinical Director, Dr. Nakia Hamlett has been offering Mindful Moments on a daily basis. These instruct and reinforce self-care with simple “How to’s” of mindfulness, accompanied by spectacular photos. These are used as objects to help soothe and calm. Staff is encouraged to submit photos and videos that they find life supporting. A plethora of responses have come in. Photos of baby foxes born near the school stables; waterfalls throughout Northwestern Connecticut, footage from nature walks, and even videos of pets are being circulated. Arts staff put together a musical performance with individual performances from their homes on a virtual platform forming one cogent piece. Other staff played Mad Libs and created zany You tube videos of the results. These help connect the staff and students when they are not on campus together and in their usual roles.
Having staff utilize and display their individual creativity and talents underlies a positive culture of caring. Last, but not least, appreciation of staff from the Executive Director is heartfelt and goes a long way. Glenholme staff, students and families feel supported and uplifted on a daily basis.