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Employee Spotlight: Detroit Merit Teacher’s Passion for Mental Health on The Teachers’ Lounge

NHA Communications Team  |  August 13, 2021
This is a spotlight on one of NHA’s educators who is featured on The Teachers’ Lounge.

Kali Thorpe’s passion for mental health is no secret, as it’s a topic she advocates strongly for in her seventh- and eighth-grade classroom at Detroit Merit Charter Academy because of her own journey with mental health.

Ms. Thorpe believes in the value of taking care of your mental health. She recognizes that it hasn’t always been a topic that society has been comfortable with, and while she thinks that is changing, she believes we still have a long way to go.

“I think it is an even more important topic area for teachers to discuss because we have high-stress jobs,” said Ms. Thorpe. “In our field, like social workers and therapists, we can struggle with something called secondary traumatic stress. This is emotional duress that comes from consistently hearing about the firsthand traumatic experiences of others. When you put these two things together, the impact can be emotionally draining. Knowing about mental health can help you take care of yourself and combat these things.”

Because teachers are often role models for students, she is adamant about the importance of educators learning about mental health.

“We know that modeling is an incredibly useful tool in the classroom – that’s why we model new skills and procedures for our students,” she said. “Modeling positive mental health, like coping skills or conflict resolution, is something that we should be doing. Our little students are dealing with big things every day and having this toolbox of skills will make their lives just a little easier. And it is going to make your classroom community a lot better.”

Because of her passion for mental health, Ms. Thorpe has been featured multiple times on The Teachers’ Lounge, National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) library of podcast episodes, videos, and blogs that support teachers in all stages of their careers by sharing helpful tips and tricks on teaching-related topics.

“The goal of The Teachers’ Lounge was to utilize the experience of our teachers to create content that would make NHA the expert in the education world,” said Scott Williams, workforce planning team lead at NHA and host on The Teachers’ Lounge.

Each guest on The Teachers’ Lounge is an expert in a particular area of teaching, bringing a unique perspective on educator-specific topics, and Ms. Thorpe brings refreshing ideas to the table on mental health.

“When we talk about mental health, our struggles and successes, we help to normalize it,” said Ms. Thorpe. “I hope that is what I am doing each time I come on to the podcast.”

Ms. Thorpe has been on the podcast twice so far, and her first episode “The Mental Health of Your Students” is already released on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. You can catch her second episode when it comes out by subscribing to The Teachers’ Lounge on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

She’s also contributed two blogs so far to The Teachers’ Lounge: “7 Ways to Build a Positive Mental Health Culture in Your Classroom” and “3 Ways to Check in on Your Students’ Mental Health”.

Ms. Thorpe likes contributing to The Teachers’ Lounge because she believes in the importance of having a something created by educators, for educators.

“Spaces like NHA’s The Teachers’ Lounge recognize the unique demands of our field and serves as a support system,” she said.

Ms. Thorpe received a lot of support as a new educator. Her amazing support system allowed her to learn from the experiences of other educators.

“When I contribute to The Teachers’ Lounge, I feel like I am doing that for other educators,” she said. “Teachers do best when we stick together and help each other, and that’s what I try to do in my career. If I have learned something beneficial and awesome, I want to share it.”

That is the true essence of The Teachers’ Lounge – giving teachers the opportunity to learn from other teachers.

“Ms. Thorpe’s episodes are a perfect example of making NHA the expert in the education space,” said Williams. “A lot of teachers want to talk about mental health but don’t know where or how to start. The Teachers’ Lounge is a platform for our teachers to speak about what they’re passionate about in hopes that what they share provides support internally to our teachers and resonates and shows what it’s like to teach at our organization to those outside of NHA. Teachers are always looking to learn more about their craft, so we want to make sure teachers of all demographics, both internally and externally, are consuming teaching content from NHA classrooms and teachers through an NHA lens.”

Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Thorpe!

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