Goodwin brings wellness to the classroom

April 14, 2014
Stephanie Harrington

Kate Goodwin

The elusive dream job – we all hear about it.

Kate Goodwin created her own. The Royal Roads alumna is Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board’s wellness communication co-ordinator.

Her work helps support wellness practices such as mindfulness and yoga, as well as communication skill development, for employees and students. Goodwin also manages an employee wellness program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“I had my first residency in October at Royal Roads, I was blown away when I was there,” she says. “I was encouraged to study something I was really passionate about and interested in.

“I came home and I was lit up.”

Goodwin, who is also a yoga teacher, wanted to understand how wellness and communication theories could be applied to school and work. She decided to focus her thesis and assignments as part of a Master of Arts in International and Intercultural Communication on the topic. 

“We hear the word wellness, but what does it mean?” Goodwin says. “What I found is those who can communicate well experience the highest levels of wellbeing.”

She approached the head of the school board and spoke to them about integrating wellness into education. Teaching children about “wellness pillars,” including emotional, intellectual, physical and social health, increases their resilience, Goodwin says.

As part of her research, Goodwin travelled to India for a month on a meditation retreat and shared her observations and findings through a blog with students in Hamilton. When she returned, senior administration agreed to hold a wellness month for staff and students, with Goodwin leading the student initiative.

“I said I’d like to help you develop what that culture means within your organization,” she says.

After completing her thesis, Goodwin agreed to continue to do contract work with the board. She now handles special projects for the board and is developing wellness pedagogy and theory for schools in Hamilton.

For example, a new Reporter in the Classroom initiative will involve students, who are travelling to the Dominican Republic as part of a service project this year, share stories of experiential education with their classmates online at home. Goodwin says it will teach students about personal storytelling, technology and health journalism.

Morris Hucal, assistant superintendent with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, says projects such as this show that Goodwin is helping students engage with technology in a positive way. He says Goodwin has had a particular impact on schools in lower socio-economic areas.

“Kate's passion, dedication and support is making a difference especially at our Equal Opportunity Schools in Hamilton Wentworth Catholic,” Hucal says. “She is providing students with strategies to deal with every day stresses and teaches them how to rejuvenate their souls and celebrate their lives.”

For Goodwin, studying at Royal Roads has been her most valuable educational experience.

“I was lucky,” she says. “I want to continually be around people that I can liberate because I feel like my education has liberated me.”