When the doors opened this fall at Robert Miller Elementary School in Bismarck, North Dakota, fifth-grade teacher
But it hasn’t always been easy, and last year, Heather needed a reset. With a colleague, she organized a
“The last few years of teaching have been extremely hard,” Heather says. “I was burnt out and was considering walking away from this profession. But this UPLIFT group has really helped replenish my soul.”
The optional monthly gatherings provide a place for the educators to look within themselves.
“We gather to focus on ourselves, one another and God,” she says. “Laughter, tears, honesty, reflection, connection and prayer happened, and each person who participated left feeling uplifted. When you get a group of people who are struggling together and they're able to focus on their mindset and turn everything to a positive, it really can impact the culture of the school, as well as each individual.”
Heather used her Thrivent Action Team seed money to buy food and beverages for the gatherings and journals for the staff members.
“When you’re having a little snack after school, you’re able to decompress and open up, really get into the moment of what we’re talking about and thinking about yourself,” Heather says. “It helps shed off the weight of the day.”
This wasn’t the first time Heather led a Thrivent Action Team at school, and she includes her husband and three daughters, too. For example:
- During the pandemic, she led her fifth-grade students in gathering personal hygiene items and treats to create care packages for sailors quarantined on a naval ship.
- One Christmas, Heather led a drive to collect clothing, food items and hygiene products for families at school struggling to afford basic necessities.
“I’m always on the lookout for great projects or opportunities to put a Thrivent Action Team into place,” she says. “That has really brought giving to be a constant in our life in ways that we wouldn’t be able to do just as an individual family.”