Thibert to coordinate expanded wellness commitment

Thibert to coordinate expanded wellness commitment
Posted on 09/08/2020
Liz ThibertAs one piece of Tahoma’s emphasis on supports and services in the areas of mental health and wellness, the district hired a wellness coordinator to ensure that counseling staff have the resources they need to best support students, staff and families. Liz Thibert, formerly a counselor at Maple View Middle School, said she is excited about the opportunity for a new challenge.

“It was perfect timing for where my heart was, to lead partnerships and programs for our students and families. … I love that our district is really putting an emphasis on wellness and social emotional health,” Thibert said. She has loved being a school counselor, and helping not just students but also staff and families. After originally graduating from Western Washington University with a marketing degree and working in radio advertising, Thibert began volunteering with youth at her church.

“As I worked with youth, and remembered what it was like to be back in middle school and high school, I thought about the fact that I didn’t have a champion on campus, and I needed one,” Thibert recalled. “I thought about the things that I could have accomplished if I had that voice cheering me on at school.”

So, she decided to study school counseling and earned her master’s degree at Seattle Pacific University. After an internship in Lynnwood, Thibert accepted a counseling position at Cedar River Middle School, and has been with Tahoma ever since. While completing her National Board Certification, she began thinking about ideas that could help the district in a larger way.

“Tahoma counseling staff is phenomenal,” Thibert said. However, the number of students that each counselor assists is high, and the challenges that Tahoma students and families face are growing each year. “We added more counseling staff to middle and high school, and also social emotional paras at the elementary school level. The fact that the district has such a dedicated focus on student and staff wellness and increasing our school counseling professionals is critical right now. I know we will see a big difference in the way that we’re able to serve students.”

In her new position, Thibert will help facilitate the district school counseling team and look at programs to make sure that Tahoma has the resources it needs. She won’t work directly with students, but rather will help acquire programs, curricula and other resources, and assist, when needed, in implementing them effectively.

“Our school counseling staff is a well-oiled machine. Sometimes when you’re really rolling, it can be hard to see where you can add or shift something to be more effective in serving our students,” she said. “I think everyone is working very hard for our families and students. My hope is to serve the counselors with resources and programs to reach even more students”

For example, at Maple View last year, the staff piloted a program to use the Second Step social emotional curriculum during health and fitness, working with students on goal setting and how to overcome obstacles. This year, during Future Ready and homeroom time at the middle school, some of those lessons will be incorporated at the middle school level. “It’s a half an hour two or three days a week. … it will have to be abbreviated, but we can still teach critical skills.”

Also as part of the new position, Thibert will work with Community Resource Coordinator Stephanie Williams, who was hired to fill the new mental health position that the school district and the City of Maple Valley are partnering to fund. She sees this as an opportunity for the city and school district to collaborate on community wellness and achieve positive changes. “We’re both brand new in our positions, so we can be creative. We’re excited to pair together.”

District Health and Fitness Content Specialist Tracy Krause, who works with the counseling teams, said “Our school district, our families, and especially our young people are fortunate to have Liz Thibert, a long-time Tahoma school counselor and advocate for mental health supports for students, leading our wellness work at the district level. Her commitment to providing meaningful resources and services, along with her skilled leadership and vision, will help to create a system that truly meets our students' needs.”

Outside of work, Thibert said she loves being a wife and the mom of an “energetic and super precocious” 5-year-old. Their favorite book to read together is “Blue Hat, Green Hat,” by Sandra Boynton. She also loves eating pizza and Thai food; being outside, skiing, kayaking, and doing anything near the water or in nature; spending time with family and friends; her faith; and “any sport with a ball.”

Asked what else she would like students, staff and families to know as she steps into this new role, Thibert said: “Self-care is not selfish. Have a self-care plan -- what do you really need when you know you’re depleted, what can you do that fills your cup? So, whether that’s connecting with friends, going on a walk, petting your dog, or going on a bike ride, find things that fill your cup and do them whether or not you want to -- we’re going to need that with all the new things that we are going to be doing.”

“There’s also this idea of ‘terrible first times,’ and the fact that it’s going to be a little uncomfortable and a little messy (this year),” she continued. “Reach out and ask if you need help.”
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.