Alisa Carter is a Student Wholeness Specialist at ConneXions, where she has returned for a second year. Prior to working at ConneXions, Ms. Carter worked for two years at another charter school in Baltimore City.
What is your role as a Student Wholeness Specialist?
As a Student Wholeness Specialist, my role is to provide social and emotional support to the school community. Students are referred to the Student Wholeness Room where the five core competencies of SEL are implemented into the session. Through proactive efforts, I build meaningful relationships with students so that
they know to self-refer to the student wholeness room when in need. Additionally, I connect with all school staff, community partners, and parents to identify collective needs to further support the students.
This issue’s theme is “Healing Together”. As ConneXions’ SEL coordinator, how do you help create a healing and supportive environment for students and staff at your school? What does social and emotional learning mean to you and why is it important? What has SEL looked like in your school during this especially challenging year?
I am intentional about building relationships with staff and students. On a daily basis, I am visiting classrooms, present in the hallways and cafeteria, greeting students when they arrive and wishing them a safe journey when they depart. I am vulnerable with my students so that they can see my authenticity. Once children deem you ‘real’ they begin to feel safe and can receive love. It is challenging for humans to heal or learn if they do not feel loved. I speak love into them every
day. That’s also the basis of SEL in my opinion. Feeling safe and loved allows you to see things differently. You can think more clearly to make smarter decisions. You can show empathy for others because your defenses are no longer drawn.
Safety and love are at the core of SEL. To support our staff, I check in with their emotional needs and make myself available for classroom support or as a listening ear. I help to empower them by validating their classroom
space, connecting them with families, supporting their SEL efforts, and providing appropriate resources. When there is conflict in our building, we bring students and staff together for restorative circles to mend the relationship, understanding the delicacy of our current times.
What inspired you to choose this career? What is your favorite thing about it?
I love the fact that I don’t have to be anything else
besides myself. Social emotional learning is who I am as a person. Before I ever heard of SEL, I
was aware of the importance of these skills and lived by the same principles of growth. This
position has certainly improved my emotional intelligence and continues to help build my
professional development skills.
Apart from your main job as SEL coordinator, do you have any other roles or projects you are involved with (inside or outside of school)?
On a school level, I am a member of the Green Team where we work with students and parents on our school’s courtyard and garden as well as the Hospitality Committee, the Family and Community Engagement Committee, and the Student Support Team. Soon, my mindfulness after-school club will begin where students can practice yoga, meditation, have meaningful dialogue with their peers, and enhance their SEL skills. Outside of ConneXions, I also work with a domestic violence and sex trafficking hotline.
What does being a BTU member mean to you?
As a BTU member, I feel like I am a part of a greater sum. I feel supported and protected by the union and its advocacy efforts. Additionally, BTU’s member benefits are relevant to my needs.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am proud to be a part of the ConneXions family. I couldn’t imagine working at any other school. The culture of our school is positive, loving, and family-oriented. To even have this opportunity with BTU shows how m ted by my ConneXions family.