Middle School counselors Meredith Draper and Naima Williams developed a new student wellness space called The Nest in a second floor classroom dedicated to students' (and teachers') mental wellbeing. The Nest is a large space outfitted with comfy seating, a conference area for group conversations, and resources for tactile activities like coloring and journaling.
“We hope that this space will provide students and teachers with a dedicated area on the Middle School campus that helps them to take a break and recenter as needed.” Draper said. “Across the country, we’ve seen an increase in stress and anxiety, as well as higher rates of depression and burnout. The whole national conversation has been at a maximum stress level for so long, and young people absorb that. We need more calming spaces and to let kids know that it’s OK to not be OK sometimes, and to help them rebuild from there.”
Counselors can meet with students in The Nest individually, though the space also will be used for small group sessions to address social and academic concerns as well as grief and loss. Counselors and/or administrators also will gather students there for conflict resolution and restorative circles as needed. “Finally, we are curating a wellness library to make age-appropriate books and resources available to students that tackle issues such as mental health, identity, grief and loss, and diversity and inclusion,” Draper said.
In the wake of the pandemic, middle school age students everywhere are making up for lost time in social-emotional development, Draper added. “Even in the best of times, it’s tough to be this age. Throw in modern problems and they carry a lot on their shoulders,” she said. “Our administration has been very supportive of creating a space to help students deal with anxiety and stress and learn tools for creating wellness and calm.”
- middle school