Wellness room

Donors Kent and Linda Livermore thank Scott Libby Elementary School Principal Marlene Capristo, Litchfield Elementary School District Executive Director Gina DeCoste, Superintendent Jodi Gunning, Executive Director Megan Duplain and PTA Vice President Elizabeth Bettencourt as they unveil a new wellness room for teachers and staff on Aug. 4 in Litchfield Park. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Scott Libby Elementary School teachers now have a wellness room to enjoy on campus, thanks to a donation from a late teacher’s family.

The Litchfield Park elementary school unveiled the new space Aug. 4 to its teachers and parents. Funding for the wellness room was donated by School Connect board member Linda Livermore and her family as a tribute to her mother and former teacher Billie Barbara Nelson, who died in March 2020 from health issues. This addition will provide a space that will not only benefit staff but the well-being of students.

“We are so appreciative of the donation that the family made in honor of their mom, as well as to our partnership with School Connect, because that really is what ignited this,” said Marlene Capristo, principal of Scott Libby Elementary. “Then, bringing in our amazing PTA, we took that vision and created this room. There’s just so much gratitude for all of that coming together to create something for this school.”

School Connect is an Arizona-based nonprofit that partners with schools to directly provide resources and community support for students to help reach their full potential. Livermore and her family made a donation to the organization as a way to return the blessings her mother bestowed upon them and local children.

Nelson was one of Scott Libby Elementary’s original teachers when the school first opened in 1976, teaching second grade for two decades before retiring in 1996. Following her retirement, she continued to serve her community on the Litchfield Elementary School board for eight years.

“My mom’s legacy was making a difference,” Livermore said. “She really had a heart for teaching, but she really had a big heart for the underdog, the kids that struggle … just pouring in the extra hours to make sure that they were taken care of. She lived her life to make a difference in the next generation.”

According to School Connect founder and CEO Tracey Beal, Scott Libby Elementary chose to put the funding toward a teacher wellness room to show its support of its educators. Throughout the challenges of the past two years, its teachers have worked “tirelessly” to ensure their students thrive academically and have access to social and emotional support.

“This will be the place they can come to get their cup filled before filling the cups of their kids. Teacher support and appreciation is a powerful way to invest in our kids,” Beal said. “We are thrilled to recognize the excellence of education at Scott Libby and send a clear message to educators that they are valued.”

While the school already houses a similar room dedicated to nurturing the well-being of the students, the benefits of the teachers’ wellness room will ultimately reflect upon the student body.

“We want what’s best for our students, and we know that the teachers are the stewards of that vision. So we need to make sure that they’re cared for so they can care for our students,” Capristo said.

“This wellness room provides some self-care on campus that’s in a distraction-free environment where they can recharge, they can decompress, and they can go back into the classroom and bring all that positive energy back.”

The project was undertaken by some of the school’s PTA members. Vice President Elizabeth Bettencourt and member Janette Rupley designed and decorated the space after a team of fathers remodeled it over the summer.

The completed wellness room is light and airy, featuring couches with pillows and blankets, as well as fairy lights and lamps providing soft lighting. There is also music, a diffuser and a water fountain — all creating a relaxing oasis for teachers to escape to during the day.

“There’s so many stressors today. … I think sometimes we need permission to just unwind, and it creates a place for them to go back and be their best selves,” Livermore said. “I think when teachers are their best selves, they can give the kids their best selves, then the kids can thrive.”