We are back with our second edition of Wellness Wednesday on the blog! If you didn’t catch the first post, we are highlighting ModernWell members within the wellness industry to give you an inside look at the women that make up our community and share different perspectives on the meaning of wellness.
This week we are featuring Jessica Werner, former teacher turned founder of her own coaching and consulting company. Jessica’s story of how she got where she is today is truly inspiring and will leave you with a fresh perspective on mental health and wellbeing. Enjoy!
First things first – tell us who you are, where you are from, and what it is that you do!
Hi! I’m Jessica Werner and I am the founder of North Shore Coaching & Consulting, which is an education consulting company where I partner with schools to help administrators support and retain effective teachers. I also facilitate retreats for women who need time to recharge their batteries. I’ve done a lot of work outside the country in Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America and although I am a California native, the Twin Cities is now home!
Tell us more! How did you enter into the wellness space and was it an industry that you always knew you would work in?
Well, I arrived here pretty much by accident. Isn’t that how all the best things start?!
My career trajectory was definitely not linear, as I started out as a teacher, then jumped into non-profit administration, I added in some university teaching, retreat leading and life coaching…and here I am now! When I think about it, it all makes sense because as a teacher all those years ago I was pushed to the limit every single day, mental-health wise. Unless you have been a teacher you don’t really understand how taxing it is to be responsible for the little people that are in your classroom. Teaching is hands down the most rewarding profession I can think of, and it is also one of the most challenging. I burnt out after a few years, although my plan at the time was to be a career educator.
There are few, if any, supports in place to help teachers who are struggling. Sometimes a school will have an instructional coach who may help them planning lessons for specific subjects, but usually there is absolutely no one around to check in on a teachers’ mental health.
Life took me away from the classroom for many years, although I remained connected to the world of K-12 as I took on other roles. A few years ago, I was hired as a consultant to go into a school and work with a few struggling teachers. We focused on lesson planning and managing the class, and I added in a healthy dose of life coaching and mindfulness training, because I found that many of them were on the brink of exhaustion. Then I was hired at another school, and another. And now I partner with schools around the country. It is amazing to be able to support teachers in a way that I so desperately needed.
The wellness space in education still doesn’t really exist and I am trying to change that. Schools are (typically) good about problem solving how to help students, but they forget to help their teachers. I see it often and by the time an administrator realizes it, things are usually too far gone and the teacher has quit and moved on to a new career. Things don’t have to be this way and I love working with forward-thinking administrators who are willing to invest in the wellbeing of their teachers.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions in the wellness industry that you want to debunk? ( I don’t know if that’s the right wording, but something along those lines!)
I think that as women, the biggest misconception is that self-care and wellness is a luxury, or that when we focus on our own needs we should somehow be made to feel guilty. Wellness is not a luxury; it is essential to wellbeing. We can’t be our best for others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves – I see this all the time with the teachers I work with and in my own life as a working mom. This is also a huge reason I started leading retreats. Sometimes a quick trip to the gym isn’t enough to really recharge my batteries and I need to physically GET AWAY and take time and space for myself. As in get on an airplane, change time zones, and be somewhere new. Lead.Her Retreats are a way that I am offering an opportunity for other women to do the same!
How does ModernWell fit into your wellness/self-care journey?
I’m someone who loves and needs community. Community is my oxygen. It is amazing to step into ModernWell and have community right there. Women who know what it is like to work hard, love what they do, and who are also searching for ways to be their best self. When I found ModernWell I actually wasn’t even looking to join a co-working space. I spent about 2 minutes on the website and signed myself up, without even touring it, which is very unlike me as I am typically not an impulsive decision maker. I consider that one of the best decisions I’ve made personally and professionally in the last few years!
What’s your guilty pleasure?!
I’m working on not feeling guilty for doing things I like to do. It is a hard practice and a mindset shift, though, as I constantly feel like every minute of the day should be devoted to my job or my family. I recharge my batteries by traveling, by learning new things, by meeting new people who challenge me to think differently, and by sharing nightly family dinners with my husband and two children.
Want to learn more about Jessica?
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