Launching a Wellness Program/Center: Learnings From Our Rookie Year

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Location: La Nouvelle Ballroom, Table 14
Experience live: All-Access Package

Participate and share : Poster

Milissa Banister  
Connie McCarley  

This session focuses on the process Walnut Creek School District took to launch a districtwide wellness program and what we learned in our first year. We'll share our process, the physical spaces, our online calming room and digital check-ins, and the funding sources used to outfit the spaces and provide training from mental health professionals.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: iOS, Windows, Android
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Internet Access. G Suite tools preferred to access sign in on Google Forms. QR Code reader/ smartphone.
Topic: Equity and inclusion
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Health and physical education, Special education
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Empowering Leader
  • Inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration that allows the time and space to explore and experiment with digital tools.
Systems Designer
  • Establish partnerships that support the strategic vision, achieve learning priorities and improve operations.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose is to share our first year learnings of launching a wellness program in our district. Focusing on creating a program that is comprehensive and allows for growth, no matter the needs a person brings to the table. We will share resources, and have participants interact with our digital sign in tools (Google Forms) for students to check their current mental state, virtual calming room (Google Sites) and interact with tactile tools that are student favorites in the space. The presentation will include data tracking of our first year in operation, student interviews/feedback, and honest dialogue about what we learned in our rookie year. All our tools will be made available to participants.


We will start with a brief experience of our wellness center- engaging participants in taking a whole body scan to check their status and needs. They can try out our digital sign in tool and play in our online Calming Room. For a 30 minute presentation: 5 min intro, 10 minute background/ development of the space, 10 minute share of data, student testimonials and video of spaces in action, 5 minute of sharing about our next steps and questions. We will use device based activities, individual exploration and games (wrap up activity with prizes- student favorites from the wellness centers)

Supporting research

Ed Source Article:

Why We Need Wellness in Schools-

Santa Ana Unified Wellness Center-

Wellness Centers in Schools-

We are all Different and That's Awesome-

More [+]


Milissa Banister, Walnut Creek School District

Milissa Banister is a principal at Indian Valley school in Walnut Creek, California. She has been the site principal since 2015. Over the past 7+ years, her school has transitioned to flexible seating environments, engaging students in the creation of classroom layouts/ weaving technology into the classrooms. For the 21-22 school year as part of a district wide approach to wellness, IV opened The Nest, the Wellness Center on site. Aimed at supporting students who are returning from COVID learning, The Nest, along with other recess activities is engaging students in play, imagination and exploration of mental health.

Connie McCarley, Walnut Creek School District

Connie McCarley currently serves as the Assistant Director of Educational Support Services in the Walnut Creek School District. Prior to this role, she served as a site principal at three different schools, including a PBL school and an IB MYP middle school. Connie is the lead administrator of the WCSD Wellness Program. She also leads the districtwide implementation of innovative learning spaces which integrates SEL in grades K-8.

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