In his 15 years at Mountain View High School, both as a teacher and an administrator, William Blair said he has focused on building campus culture. Recently hired as the district’s inaugural wellness coordinator, he views his new job as aligning with that mission, just on a broader scale.
“This wellness coordinator position gives me the opportunity to actually put more focus and energy into the things that live in my blood – making people feel included, helping people feel supported, helping to build infrastructure to improve our lives, our wellness,” Blair said.
In January, he will take over as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District’s wellness coordinator, a new position the district created to oversee social, emotional and mental health services in the district.
Blair was hired as a teacher at Mountain View High School in 2004 and has served as an assistant principal at the school since 2013. He said the wellness coordinator position will allow him to continue his focus on supporting students across a variety of areas.
Over time, the issues public schools are charged with addressing have changed, Blair said, with families and the public looking to schools to provide support on issues ranging from substance abuse to social media and sexual harassment. The wellness coordinator position will guide the continuing process of developing programs and infrastructure to support students.
“I think it’s a really great thing that our district is so forward-thinking and really looking toward the future,” Blair said.
Balancing the stress
Although the purpose of schools is to educate students, Blair said wellness is a necessary part of ensuring students can access their education. As an example, he said a student being bullied online by a classmate is unlikely to be able to focus in that class.
“There are a lot of dynamics that this position may cover, but I think all of it is under that umbrella of access to education,” Blair said.
Superintendent Nellie Meyer struck a similar note, saying that the district is a strong academic institution, but mental health and wellness issues can get in the way of students’ success in school.
“We recognize that our role is to help our students become stronger adults, and that includes learning how to balance the stress that comes with adolescence,” Meyer said.
The wellness coordinator will oversee a variety of areas, including being the point person for suicide prevention, a topic Meyer said is of the “utmost importance” to the district. In October, a Mountain View High student took his own life. At that time, plans to hire a wellness coordinator were already in place, with the school board approving the job description the prior month.
Across different topics, Blair said he wants to embed preventive services for students, so support is there before they are even in a crisis. He will oversee various tiers of interventions, targeted to the degree of the issue a student is grappling with. His work will involve coordinating with the various district staff members who work on wellness issues, as well as outside agencies the district partners with.
According to Meyer, what stood out about Blair was his passion for the issues the wellness coordinator will be tackling, his deep knowledge in the area of mental health and his experience in the district.
“He really brings a variety of skills to the job that made him a perfect match,” Meyer said.
When Blair takes over the new position in January, Lynne Ewald is slated to serve as an assistant principal while the district looks for a permanent replacement. Ewald previously served as an administrator at Mountain View High before leaving in 2017.