Interview: Lisa Ebeling, School Psychologist

Mrs. Ebeling, Maggie Walker's new school psychologist.

Mrs. Ebeling, Maggie Walker's new school psychologist.

Kamya Sanjay, Editor-in-Chief

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High school as an experience is extremely formative. These four years contain so many events and moments that shape students as individuals and begin to direct them onto their respective paths, but people from all walks of life go through periods of time that can seem rough, dark, and confusing. Sometimes, Maggie Walker can create an environment that facilitates stress, as students juggle massive course loads, a stacked schedule of extracurriculars, program and college applications, sports, and the general “teen” experience of doing some soul searching. It can be overwhelming. Luckily, this year, the Maggie Walker community has enlisted the help of a new resource.

Meet Mrs. Lisa Ebeling. She is no stranger to the Maggie Walker community, for her own daughter attended the school for four years. Mrs. Ebeling has spent the majority of her career in the Chesterfield County school system. She has worked with a broad age range of students from preschool to highschool and has obtained experience with IQ testing, one on one student support services, special education (especially learning/emotional disabilities), and classroom training on vital issues such as suicide prevention. Mrs. Ebeling chose to move on to promoting acceptable and accessible services to students. “I came to love direct service with students the most.” she says.

For this reason, most of her goals center around creating an environment that promotes self awareness. “A number of students I have talked to have heard me talk about what the concept of health means to me,” Mrs. Ebeling explains. “Physical and mental health interact and affect each other.” Mrs. Ebeling wants students to understand that they are never alone, and thinks that the secrets to success in combating stress are openness and transparency. “There’s less stigma attached to seeking mental health assistance from the time I began my career to now,” she remarks, “and I would like to continue normalizing seeking assistance when you’re going through a tough time.”

Mrs. Ebeling hopes that the Maggie Walker student’s propensity for academics will help the student think of their needs to ensure a state of mental equilibrium. She believes that the added service will facilitate this growth of self awareness and make it easier for students to first recognize when they need help and then feel comfortable enough to seek it. “The challenge of this school, and with any honors level coursework program, there is a lot of stress with what you all are juggling,” she points out. Mrs. Ebeling maintains that she doesn’t have a magic wand- she can’t just make the stress disappear- but she can make it easier for students to comprehend and deal with something that affects them directly and frequently. “I serve students by helping them and the key people in their lives. The key parts of the community need to know about this service,” she says.

Along with her primary goals of cultivating openness and making mental health resources widely available, Mrs. Ebeling has a few secondary goals that she hopes to accomplish across the year. She wants to create small group support groups for individuals dealing with heavy stress, arguably the most common concern at Maggie Walker. Although she realizes that there may be challenges in working out a proper schedule (as it always is at MLWGS) she wants to make a partnership with a member of the VCU anxiety clinic. Mrs. Ebeling hopes to run this group for 6 to 10 weeks.

Her other ideas include lunch and learn activities, or small seminars at lunch on topics that students might find interesting and useful, as well as a range of mindfulness activities to experiment with during exam time. As the ultimate form of stress relief, Mrs. Ebeling hopes to follow the route that many colleges are now taking and bring in therapy dogs during lunch to help relieve stress. She has a wealth of ideas to disseminate mental health information throughout the student body and make the service available to all students.

Ultimately, Mrs. Ebeling wants all students to know that they can trust her to offer guidance to students when life hits them hard. She wants to be there for the student population of Maggie Walker and wants to produce a revitalized student body that is self aware, actively takes care of mental health, and knows that help is always just around the corner.

 

You can contact Mrs. Ebeling at [email protected].

 

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