As I’ve traveled across the country meeting with school leaders these last few months, I’ve asked this question: “How are you doing?”

I have genuinely wanted to know how you’re handling the job and juggling myriad responsibilities while navigating a fraught political climate in the wake of the pandemic. These are some of the most challenging times, but you remain committed to your schools, students, and the profession.

I’m in awe of your service, but I realize now more than ever that you must make time for yourself. As the holiday season approaches, please use the coming break to rest, recharge, and reconnect with family and friends. Your work is extremely challenging, and you have earned your vacation.

I know from firsthand experience that school leaders focus so much on projecting strength that they can forget to take care of themselves. But practicing self-care is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. There’s no trade-off between taking care of students and staff and prioritizing your own well-being. Both are necessary for strong and effective leadership.

I’m proud to serve an organization that is prioritizing and destigmatizing mental health. Our recent Student Leadership Summit on Wellness was a tremendous success. Students brainstormed terrific ideas for helping their peers take care of themselves, and we as school leaders can learn much from these inspiring young people.

One powerful idea that students raised? To remember to live in the moment. For school leaders, there’s no better lesson to bring home. Be present with your loved ones. Be there for and with them. Give them something that costs nothing but means everything—the gift of spending time with a fully present you.

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