Dr. Jacquelyn Ollison Smiling
Dr. Jacquelyn Ollison Smiling

Hi!

May is Mental Health Month! Here is the thing though, every month, rather every day, is a mental health day. Supporting one’s mental health and wellbeing should be a lifelong venture, especially if you are an educator. Some time ago, I shared my story about my struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in my research. It felt liberating to admit what was happening behind my smile. In honor of Mental Health Month, I’d like to share this story again with you now. I hope you know that you are not alone. Who knows, this story may inspire you to…


A picture containing text, and Amanda Gorman at the Presedential Innaguriaton
A picture containing text, and Amanda Gorman at the Presedential Innaguriaton
Amanda Gorman Reciting Poem at Presidential Inauguration Photo credit: Rob Carr[1]

Were you mesmerized by the words of Amanda Gorman on inauguration day, January 20, 2021? I know I was. What a treat it was to see this young, capable, bright woman of color waxing philosophical about the United States’ quest for real democracy. A pursuit that imagines the United States is a place where all people of color are valued, treated with respect, and able to fulfill their life’s mission and purpose. And that this purpose is fulfilled without anyone telling them they can’t, whether by intentional systemic design, practiced indifference, or ignorant bliss.

I’ve heard countless people say that…


Women looking up at the sky at birds
Women looking up at the sky at birds
Hope

A colleague of mine recently said they appreciate my thoughtful, compassionate leadership. And I thought, hmm, is that me? I am grateful for the new year and look forward to a change in national leadership and rhetoric. But I am still deeply uneasy. I think it’s because, in the hopes of returning to some semblance of normalcy, the zeitgeist reads to me like people want to go back to the way it was before; only the before was not good for everyone. Many people– wonderful people, beautiful people, and amazing people– have been ignored and, quite frankly, mistreated in the…


  1. We are grateful for the tremendous courage shown by Lab members to pursue an equity-driven teacher preparation agenda in which you actively and unapologetically recruit, retain, and support educators of color. You can read more about The Lab’s Advancing Equity: Recruiting, Retaining, and Supporting Educators of Color Focus in our statement of strategic direction developed in conjunction with the Glen Price Group. Click here to learn more about the participating programs.
  2. The Oakland Teacher Residency going above and beyond to ensure their residents have access to affordable housing in order to teach in the Oakland Unified School District. …

By Dr. Jacquelyn Ollison, Dr. Nathan Swett, and Dr. Shari Dickstein-Staub

If you struggle to deliver effective distance learning in asynchronous and synchronous environments, you are not alone. To be honest, before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the deep educational inequities in our school system, especially when it comes to technology, we are unsure how many people knew the difference between asynchronous and synchronous learning and instruction, or remote and non-digital.

Bridging the digital divide, which means understanding these terms and providing students with learning access no matter the environment, is paramount to ensure that the learning loss that has and…


Why We Need Equity-Driven Teacher Preparation

Picture of Linda Brown and her mother in 1954
Picture of Linda Brown and her mother in 1954
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

I chose this photo with this quote because it perfectly illustrates why we must never stop fighting for justice and equity in education. Although the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision occurred in 1954 with Brown as the lead complainant, Linda Brown never actually attended the all-white school her father tried to enroll her in — Sumner School. Brown shared her thoughts on this situation in an NPR article about 19 years after the decision:

I just couldn’t understand…We lived in a mixed neighborhood but when school time came I would have to take the school bus and go…


You Can’t’ Save the Rainforest If Your Depressed” — Excerpt From The 6 Pillars of Struggle Care
You Can’t’ Save the Rainforest If Your Depressed” — Excerpt From The 6 Pillars of Struggle Care
You Can’t’ Save the Rainforest If Your Depressed” — Excerpt From The 6 Pillars of Struggle Care

A dear colleague of mine shared the following words with me, the day after I found out that no one would be held accountable in the senseless murder of Breonna Taylor, in her nightgown, in her own home, by those who’ve sworn an oath to protect us-civilians.

She said, Jacquelyn, “You Can’t Save the Rainforest if You’re Depressed.”

At the time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I was not able to pretend that I was okay. The truth is I was feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and downright hopeless.

And beyond all that, I felt guilty for feeling that…


Butterfly, hands, and seeds of compassion
Butterfly, hands, and seeds of compassion
Created by Jacquelyn Ollison Ed.D. based off this photo by Unknown Author, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Addressing Educational Inequity

Our schools were woefully under-prepared to address the COVID-19 Pandemic. And as a result, it further exacerbated academic achievement gaps. It revealed educational inequities primarily driven by poverty and systemic oppression that exist in our school system (Bridgeland & Balfanz, 2020). Unfortunately, lack of access for some students to the internet and technology, are only a fraction of the needs of students. For many school dependent students, schools also provide safety, structure, meals, access to timely dosages of medication, and mental health support (ETW, 2020; Gant, 2013, p.41).

Addressing school inequities with compassion, requires not only an acknowledgment of the…


Seeds of Compassion
Seeds of Compassion
Created by Jacquelyn Ollison Ed.D. based off this photo by Unknown Author, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Supporting Educators Who Support Students

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, I advocated for education policy that would address teacher’s compassion fatigue in my dissertation entitled Improving Teacher Retention by Addressing Teachers’ Compassion Fatigue. In my research, I found that teachers were experiencing overwhelming amounts of compassion fatigue and struggling to manage the effect that working with traumatized students was having on them professionally and personally (Ollison, 2019).

Compassion fatigue is the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that results from caring for those who are experiencing trauma, especially childhood trauma. (Figley, 1995; Lerias &Byrne 2009). It is also described as a combination of secondary stress and burnout…


Image of Hands Word Art by Jacquelyn Ollison, Ed.D.
Image of Hands Word Art by Jacquelyn Ollison, Ed.D.

“Even in the midst of our worst struggles, our forefathers knew that part of our advancement and growth began with a sound education.” –The Power of Education A School for Freed Slaves 1870 National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel

My entire life, I have been drawn to education. I loved my teachers so much that I became one. Teachers gave me — purpose, information, and knowledge, and as they did, I learned and thrived. I am grateful for the better life I live because of these gifts. Simply put, education changed my life, and I do not know…

Jacquelyn Ollison, Ed.D.

Teaching is my superpower! I write about compassion fatigue, education equity, and educator well-being.

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