Pause for a Relaxing Winter Break

Student Support team

There’s a natural pause built into Overlake’s school schedule, where students, as well as faculty and staff, have the opportunity to regroup and refresh before heading back to campus for the second half of the year.

Learning to pause and “breathe” has been an important lesson taught to our students this year. Susan Essex and Pauline Salgado, Overlake’s personal counselors, have been working with the students to help them reset after learning remotely most of last year.

“We’re not worrying about how our students are doing academically,” explains Essex. “Generally, those behaviors have come back better than we expected, and I’d like parents to know that. What I would have families focus on with their students is their online behaviors, their sleep patterns, their overall happiness levels, their being comfortable in their own skin.” 

Essex and the Student Support Department at Overlake is putting well-being into everyday discussion and practice with students. “Right now, it’s not about what we teach them as much as how we teach them and soothing them over time,” says Essex.

Essex and her team partner with the grade-level homerooms to provide exercises and activities to practice elements of well-being, such as stress management, coping skills, and mutual respect. “While it’s SEL (social-emotional learning) work, we’re not labeling it as such and instead having it just be a fun, community-building sort of activity for the students to do in their homerooms,” explains Salgado. This area of well-being is part of the school’s overall strategic plan, Coming Together, which focuses on four pillars: Well-being, Attract & Retain, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, and Institutional Identity.

As families have time together in the next few weeks, Essex and her team encourage students to share with their parents/guardians the curated resources available to them on each student’s Canvas homepage, under either MS or US Info. For adults in our community, there are several resources available, including two from the Jed Foundation: Social and emotional skills toolkit, and Resources for High School students and their families