Ds Scholarship

Make Merry and Stay Well — Albuquerque Public Schools

date of publication: December 10, 2021

Have a happy birthday and stay well

In his weekly letter, Supt. Elder encourages employees to take care of themselves during the winter holidays.

Artwork by Cibola Jr. Anna Bononcini

When I was a teacher and then a principal, I looked forward not only to winter break; You need this. By mid-December, I was exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally.

That’s because teaching and other education-related professions are more than just jobs. They are service-oriented jobs that focus on the most vulnerable and most promising members of our community. It is a noble and demanding job that truly affects the lives of our students, their families, and the future of our entire community.

Throw in a seemingly unwavering virus, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, a slight increase in discipline issues, and incomplete learning, and it’s no wonder we’re feeling more fatigued this semester.

For two years now, we’ve asked Albuquerque Public Schools staff to over-perform, take on extra duties, learn new skills, fill job openings, and devote more and more time to keeping our schools open and running.

I know the burden was heavy, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate all of you. I’ve been your advocate statewide, and I’ve spoken to lawmakers and officials with the New Mexico Department of Public Education about finding some relief for our teachers. You couldn’t be asked for more, I tell them. Burnout is inevitable, and we can’t afford to lose good people. Our students are the ones who will suffer the most.

I know I have your back.

I also care about your health and well-being, so I turned to Becky MacGregor, our Staff Health Coordinator, for advice on self-care and wellness. She offered three tips to help tackle burnout during the holiday season and beyond:

  1. Simplify the season. Don’t feel like you have to make up for the celebrations you lost during the pandemic. Even before COVID-related restrictions and closures, many of us felt the need to attend every gathering. But you can have too much of a good thing, so be sure to make time for wellness and self-care activities.
  2. really rest. Not all downtime has to be productive. You don’t have to spend weekends or vacations checking to-do lists. Research shows that true relaxation can lower blood pressure, anxiety, muscle tension, and heart rate, which in turn can improve energy levels, sleep quality, focus, memory, and productivity. So, stay away from work and emails. Go for walks, read a good book, watch interesting movies, play with your family. Do things that nourish your soul and bring you happiness.
  3. A little goes a long way. You don’t have to make massive changes in your lifestyle to improve your health. Instead, take simple steps to help you feel better throughout the day. For example, try breathing techniques to de-stress, stand and stretch, go for short walks, stay away from the computer, and leave your phone.

I encourage you to check out some of the many programs offered through APS Employee Wellness. These include:

  • health training
  • life on waking
  • Nourish Your Green – A Program to Build Resilience and Well-Being
  • MyStress Tools
  • Livongo for diabetes, high blood pressure and weight management

Our December wellness newsletter contains registration links and more information on these programs.

Don’t forget the Employee Assistance Program, which offers free and confidential counseling to all employees and immediate family members. Additional mental and behavioral health benefits are provided through APS benefits and community resources. The information is available in the Mental Health Corner of the APS intranet website.

Finally, Becky asked me to connect the New Mexico Educator’s weight-loss challenge between APS, UNM, CNM, and other school districts. Health staff will provide more information in the coming weeks. The challenge begins on January 28th. Let’s show all the other entities our APS team spirit (or lose, in this case) some loot! (Sorry, Becky made me say that.)

Enjoy this winter vacation. Surround yourself with your loved ones. Get some sleep. Laugh often. And stay well!

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