WACO, Texas — Susan Duty is a former Waco ISD teacher. She left her job halfway through this last school year due to mental and physical health concerns.
"You learn to live with stress as a teacher and that's nothing strange to me," Duty said. "All of the stress started to physically manifest in my body and in my life. I just could not imagine how I was going to make it to the end of the year."
While Duty said she is still passionate about a career in education, the stress that came with teaching during the pandemic was too much.
"Not only were we supposed to be teaching kids content for that particular grade and subject, you kind of had to address what other students had missed," Duty said. "And it was all across the board up and down. Some kids did online learning and it was fine. Some kids did not."
Duty said she needed a few months to focus on her health.
"There's been some ups and downs," Duty said. "It has been really good for me to sit down and have a break, but at the same time there was a feeling of guilt for not being able to make it."
Waco ISD is now partnering with Ascension Providence to help their staff and prevent stories like duty's from repeating.
"This is about direct immediate access to support at no cost to the employee because we are able to pay for it through federal stimulus funds," Chief of Staff Kyle Debeer said.
A licensed counselor will now be on-site to assist staff in any way he can.
"We anticipate there will be some availability before and after school as well as availability during the school day," Debeer said.
Debeer said the district encourages its employees to make their mental health a priority.
"It's just hard to bring support for other people if you're not in a good place yourself so we want to support our employees to make sure their well-being is being taken care of as well both physically and mentally," Debeer said.
Waco ISD is one of the first districts in the state to offer a benefit like this.