Healthy Habits for Students and School Leaders

Within two months of Dr. Lauren Albani’s first principalship, her school was designated as underutilized and ultimately selected for closure. She was a young, new principal facing a school closure, a teacher strike and heartbroken families and staff members. “It was a learning experience pretty quick because I experienced a lot of things most people don’t experience ever, let alone in one year,” Lauren said.

While closing her previous school, Lauren discovered that her 12-hour work days were unsustainable. Now, as principal of Lasalle II Magnet Elementary School and an Independent Schools Principal, she advocates for self-care. “I’ve been a better principal because it’s given me a chance to decompress so I am ready, refreshed and fully focused during the time that I am here,” she said.

Lauren encourages healthy behavior by sending home staff who come into the building feeling unwell. “The kids are going to know if you’re tired and the kids are going to know if you are not fully present… I fully believe you have to be rested in your own mind before you can deal with kids.” Lauren and her staff work to manage their professional and personal lives as a model for their kids.

Lauren implemented a policy that eliminates homework over breaks so students can engage in self-care habits. Lasalle II is known for its rigorous curriculum that includes a nine-year language program offered to kids beginning in Kindergarten. Four times a week, students are immersed in the language and culture of either Arabic, French, Mandarin or Spanish. “We push them hard and we have high expectations. If we do our jobs here, we do not need to push them during the off times,” she said.

For Lauren, the foundation of happy and healthy students and staff is relational trust. On her first day she began building relationships with her staff that would grow into trust and personal buy in. She is visible to her students by visiting classrooms and attending recess. In doing this, Lauren said, “I bring them [kids, parents and teachers] all together in one cohesive school community and that’s been the most rewarding part for me.”