With life comes challenges – most that are completely out of our control. Whether personal or professional, someone you know is fighting a battle that you may not know about. When times like this arise, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a trusted party to confide in and seek refuge? That’s what Irving ISD’s Employee Wellness Services (EWS) became for de Zavala Middle School US History teacher Andrew Moss.
Moss, an Irving native, has taught for 15 years – all in Irving ISD. In October of 2020, tragedy struck when his childhood friend and peer took his own life. He described this as a very challenging time.
“I didn’t know how to get grounded with work and my personal life after that happened,” he says.
Moss credits Irving ISD Employee Wellness Strategist Jose Villasenor for helping him get through this tough time.
“I didn’t realize I needed help until I received it,” says Moss. “That experience was an awakening for me.”
No topic was off limits during their one-on-one sessions, and Andrew stated that Mr. Villasenor has been a trusted, listening ear over the past year. Their interactions have varied from full-on counseling sessions to simple check-ins just to see how Moss is doing, something he says he appreciates.
“This is a convenience that is rare for an employer to offer, and others should take advantage,” Moss adds.
Irving ISD launched EWS in 2019 with Villasenor, former school counselor and administrator, leading the department. Since then, the department has grown tremendously. Just recently, due to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, Villasenor was able to hire seven new employees to further provide support for employees across the district:
- Laura Marquez – Employee Wellness Assistant
- Tarsha Gibson, MA, LPC – Employee Wellness Licensed Professional Counselor
- Markelse Jordan, M.S.,LPC – Employee Wellness Licensed Professional Counselor
- Nancy Jimenez-Mota, M.Ed,LPC – Employee Wellness Licensed Professional Counselor
- Nedra Brown, BS,MS,NBC-HWC – Employee Wellness Lead
- Brian Kim, B.S. – Employee Wellness Lead
- Veronica Maples, MHS,CHES – Employee Wellness Lead
“We have so many things planned for the future with the expansion of our team,” says Villasenor. “More wellness events and fairs, physical exercising events, touchless water dispensers at each campus to encourage water intake and more!”
Currently, EWS provides employees with monthly wellness classes and a newsletter, as well as one-on-one sessions like the ones Mr. Moss benefited from.
“It’s important to our district to make sure our employees feel valued, and that includes understanding wellness and taking care of themselves,” adds Villasenor.
All employees, whether at the campus level, facilities, administration building or in-between, need to be supported when it comes to wellness, and they should know that EWS is here to assist in all areas of wellness.
“Employees need to be balanced. While it’s up to them to seek it, they also need support, and Irving ISD provides that,” says Moss.
If you or someone you know is interested in Employee Wellness Services, visit their website or call 972.600.5217.