Project aims to increase joy among staff


Photo by Leila Usanovic

Science teacher Jia Fetterolf gets a chair massage as part of the first program organized by the Joy Project at the high school.

Leila Usanovic and Jacob Staley

The newly created Joy Project aims to bolster staff spirit during the pandemic, and its first project was to set up free chair massages for staffers.

Dr. Brian McDonough and his company, Physical Pain Management, provided massages for staff in the library one day last week and again today. McDonough was contacted by Assistant Principal Jonathan Peebles, one of the organizers of the Joy Project. 

“We had made contact with Dr. McDonough and his team in the past, so it was a quick win,” Peebles said.

Peebles, along with library media specialist Brigetta Del Re, Spanish teacher Rebecca Michalski, special education teacher Elisabeth Crittenden, substitute teacher Michele Pantelis and student monitor Dayna Chapla, have worked together to create the program after realizing how the pandemic has affected staff morale.

Librarian Brigetta Del Re said the mood in the school seemed gloomy before Thanksgiving break.

  “It felt really dark and foreboding,” Del Re said.

Students did not return to school until January, and teachers were in their classrooms alone, not interacting with students and other teachers in their classrooms and the hallways. Not having students in the building during that all-remote period dissipated the positive vibe normally present in the halls of the school, she said.

The presence of the students is “what created the joyfulness of coming in,” she said.

In hopes of helping the staff relieve stress, smile, and feel good about coming in to work, the group came together and set up the first event, the chair massages. 

“The event was a great success,” Peebles said.

The Joy Project team has plans for additional events in the future. They feel that these events are vital for improving the school environment.

We are in the people business. Investing in and taking care of each other is the most important work we can do,” Peebles said.

Many teachers and staff left last week’s chair massages saying they felt rejuvenated. Main office secretary Amy Nolan said she appreciated the complimentary massages and said the project helped her get her mind off the stress related to the pandemic.

“This is a great thing they do for the teachers. With everything going, on it was very calming and relaxing,” Nolan said.