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Becky SalatoThe Role of Health and Wellness in Education

Every year when August rolls around, school districts around the country begin preparing for the upcoming school year. This year was no exception. However, things do feel a little different.

With the disruptions from pandemic fading (mostly), this year provides us with an opportunity to create a new normal. It was so clear during the Konocti Unified back-to-school staff meeting that folks are ready to return to the fun and inspiring activities that make schools such wonderful places to work.

The energy is back.

Staff members from each school came into the meeting wearing school colors, shouting school slogans, and in the case of Lower Lake High School, with the band director beating a drum to celebrate! The energy was amazing.

During that meeting, we talked about how important it is to keep our emotional batteries charged. Children aren’t the only ones who have good days and bad days, and paying attention to when our energy is low or our frustration is running high helps us take care of ourselves so we can take care of our students.

Keeping that in mind, while our focus is always on students’ academic achievement and personal growth, this year I am encouraging staff to be mindful of how their own energy levels and attitudes can affect students, and also to pay special attention to cues about students’ physical and emotional well-being.

We continue to get better at getting better.

Since I arrived at Konocti Unified three years ago, we’ve been on a mission to use the resources at hand to help our students thrive. Our motto has been: We’re getting better at getting better. This year we continue that journey and I’m so pleased to report that we’re seeing some of our work during the past few years start to take hold, both within the district and in the community. Internally, we have the right staff members in the right positions and we’re learning how to work together in new ways. Externally, we’re building partnerships with community organizations to provide students and their families with more support.

Community partnerships are helping us expand opportunities for our students.

Two of the partnerships I’m most excited about are the Blue Zones Project Lake County and the City of Clearlake’s new recreation and events division.

The Blue Zones Project is tied into a worldwide movement to create communities where it is easier to be healthy, from creating walkable cities to making healthy food easier to find and more affordable. You can learn more by visiting

At the City of Clearlake, big things are happening. In partnership with Konocti Unified, the City is building a sports center where both KUSD students and other community members will be able to play sports. The City is also creating programs to provide kids with afterschool activities, weekend camps, and spring break camps. Providing children with safe places to have fun and learn new things helps them keep moving in a positive direction.

Another way we partner with community organizations is through the individual volunteer work of many of our Konocti Unified staff members, people who serve on non-profit boards or coach youth sports or help out in their faith community or at the charity of their choice.

We know our community has experienced a lot of trauma. Many of our students face incredibly difficult challenges. We also know that by working together, schools, families, and community partners can help students gain the skills they need to build happy, healthy lives. By using trauma-informed practices in our schools and dealing with the world as it is (rather than as we might wish it to be), educators can give students the tools they need to manage their emotions, take care of their bodies, and expand their minds.

At Konocti Unified, we believe in teaching students how to grow and develop into their potential. Truly, the sky’s the limit.

Dr. Becky Salato

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