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PISD creates wellness coordinator position

Longtime PHS counselor Wendy Cain, right, trains her replacement, Kristin Figueroa, as she moves toward a different role.

When Wendy Cain was a classroom teacher, it was a tragedy involving a student that triggered her passion to become a school counselor.

In Mrs. Cain’s last classroom role as a 5th-grade teacher, one of her students and her entire family was killed by the parent.

“This parent was one of my room mothers, so I had a lot of contact with her, and of course my student, who was her daughter,” Mrs. Cain said. “After this tragedy, I began to search and question if there were signs that I had missed? Was there something that I should have done to help prevent this? I needed more education and a new path in order to help students in a different way. This took me to counseling, which has held both great joy and great sorrows for me as I work with students and families.”

After several years as a Princeton High School counselor, Mrs. Cain is switching roles again, but it’s a move she believes will provide critical assistance for students and staff during a time when they may need it most.

“During the June board meeting, trustees voted to add a new position that is becoming vital during trying times,” Superintendent Donald McIntyre said. “This position is designed to focus on the emotional and physical well-being of each student and staff member.”

Mrs. Cain has already started as the district’s coordinator for health and physical wellness, which works with both the district counselors and nurses.

“As Princeton ISD continues to grow, it is helpful if these two groups have one point of contact for questions and assistance,” Mrs. Cain said. “Mental health and whole child initiatives have always been important for the district, but in the current world in which we live, it is essential that staff be able to support students in ways other than academic needs.”

The role will also develop and oversee wellness curriculum and initiatives for all grade levels.

“What excites me the most is being able to travel to all buildings within the district and see the great programs provided by our counselors and nurses,” Mrs. Cain said. “In my previous position as high school counselor, it was easy to focus on just one small part of the district, but I love being able to see the ‘big picture’ and draw ideas from a variety of people. The staff does such a great job in serving the needs of students, and I want to enhance the job they do by sharing information and creating collaborative relationships.”

Mrs. Cain, who spent 19 years in the classroom at both the elementary and secondary level, has her bachelor’s in history and master’s in curriculum from Texas Tech, as well as a master’s in counseling from Dallas Baptist University.

“After completing my master’s in school counseling, I had the unique opportunity to create another role in this district as the campus testing coordinator/counselor at PHS,” she said. “This was certainly a new adventure, but I have learned so much in my time spent in both the testing and the counseling worlds.”

She believes her education experiences will come together as she navigates her new role.

“With my background, I am able to see how all parts interrelate and form the whole,” Mrs. Cain said. “To be able to see a kindergarten student and know what will be expected of them as they move through their education will be of help in this new role.”

One of the first services she wants to provide is a monthly newsletter, “Wellness Hub,” which will provide helpful information and tips for parents as they work at home to assist their children. It will debut in September and distribute to parents on the third Thursday of the month.

“My goal in starting this newsletter is to give parents an additional set of tools that can be used to start healthy conversations in their home,” Mrs. Cain said. “When parents and schools communicate clearly and consistently about students' health, students always win. Healthy students are better learners and better able to contribute in both home and school environments. There are many ways that families can become involved and promote new habits for their students and themselves leading to an overall healthier community.