Avis Williams cropped 4

Avis Williams. 

This pandemic has sparked an endless array of emotions for our teachers, scholars, families and our school and district leaders. Self-care is the key to securing emotional wellness during times of stress. As leaders, self-care is a must.

According to Psychology Today, self-care means knowing who you are while also understanding your limits. With proper self-care we know when we are doing more than we can handle and when it is time to take a break. Making self-care a habit is essential for all but for this article, I want to focus on our school leaders.

To learn more this important issue, I asked Team Selma’s amazing school leaders how they engage in self-care and how important it is to them as a leader.

Dyphelia Thrash, principal at The Clark Social Justice Academy volunteered that, “Stress negatively affects mental and physical health. It is a silent killer. Self-care is important for maintaining a healthy stress level. For self-care, I engage in morning devotion and listen to music.”

Prayer, meditation and music all have healing and calming factors that contribute to overall wellness and peace of mind. Spending quality time with oneself is an amazing way to stay whole and connected.

Many of our leaders, like me, engage in physical activity as part of their self-care routine. Jason Munford, principal of School of Discovery shared, “I picked up running outdoor trails. Running outdoors helped me relieve stress and helps me plan for the week or figure out solutions to problems I might have.” As a runner myself, I can certainly attest to the many benefits of hitting the pavement or better yet, the trails.

Our Selma High leader, also believes in the power of physical activity for self-care. Stoney Pritchett added, “I definitely lift weights and run four miles daily to relieve stress. During that hour and a half, I relieve daily problems and relax my mind. That time makes me a better leader and husband. It’s a must every day.”

I am so glad that he included the family connection. Our leaders have families at home and school who are relying on them.

Cicely Curtis, principal of R.B. Hudson STEAM Academy, pulls it altogether. She explained, “Self-care is vital for my success as a leader and the team that I lead. I can’t lead others if I am on empty as a leader. During the pandemic, I set boundaries by protecting family and me time. Time for myself consisted of thirty minutes of cycling and meditating. This time allowed me to get more in-tuned with myself, listen to my body and evaluate my mindset to avoid becoming overwhelmed.”

Indeed, leaders cannot be effective if they are empty and struggling with their own mindset. We could all learn much from these incredible leaders and I thank them for sharing. Pandemic or not, consistent self-care is a must. How are you caring for yourself? Tune in next week for more details on the need for self-care during these unprecedented times.

Avis Williams is superintendent of Selma City Schools. For more information, email me at avis.williams@selmacityschools.org

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