Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin (Courtesy of WE Teachers)
Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin (Courtesy of WE Teachers)

With children returning to school all around the country, a new program has launched that will provide teachers access to free tools and valuable resources.

Walgreens has partnered with the ME to WE Foundation to create WE Teachers. The program is designed to help educators address issues such as youth violence, poverty and those related to diversity and inclusion, bullying, mental health and well-being.

Through WE Teachers, educators can access online digital training modules to help them identify and assess issues affecting their students.

They can also secure the tools needed to address the issues in a supportive manner.

Teachers will be introduced to new experiential learning techniques in the classroom that should help students become more socially conscious, compassionate and engaged citizens, program officials said.

The modules have just begun to roll out online and will be available to teachers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico in both English and Spanish.

“This is basically providing teachers free tools and resources around issues, especially the critical social issues that face our students today,” said Dr. Jacqueline L. Sanderlin, a WE Teachers lead ambassador.

Sanderlin said the tool would help to handle and realize bullying. She said it’s also critical for those in marginalized and underserved communities, where students face poverty, violence and a lack of diversity and inclusion.

“Mental illness is part of this too and, unfortunately, while it’s becoming less of a stigma, a lot of the kids are coming to calls with issues from their homes and communities and they are long-term issues,” Sanderlin said. “The students also have been neglected. These issues are becoming more prevalent, and our teachers haven’t trained over the years to handle this.”

WE Teachers arms educators with the right tools and resources from experts to support students in need, Sanderlin said.

Walgreens and the ME to WE Foundation also partnered with Mental Health America, the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness. The program will support educators as they work with students who have experienced — or are currently experiencing — traumatic situations.

WE Teachers should also help teachers take preventive measures to avoid trauma.

“Many of our young people today are grappling with complex pressures and these issues don’t disappear when they enter the classroom,” Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Walgreens and WE to provide resources, so teachers feel encouraged and confident that they are taking the right steps to help their students. Ultimately, this is about making sure our teachers are supported so that our young people can succeed.”

Sanderlin said teachers today are much more than educators.

“They are mentors, counselors, cheerleaders and protectors, and they spend their own money every year to buy supplies for their students,” Sanderlin said.

Walgreens and its partners have committed to donating $5 million to the ME to WE Foundation to fund the development of the WE Teachers program, according to a news release.

Through Sept. 7, as customers shop for school supplies at Walgreens, they, too, can join the company’s commitment to supporting teachers across America, officials said.

Shoppers can track online the impact that ME to WE supporter brands are making. They can also contribute cash donations to help fund additional WE Teacher resources.

“This was built to empower and to educate by providing teachers what they need so that they can foster a resilient classroom and they can create a space for students so that they can talk to students about issues like bullying and mental health,” Sanderlin said. “Teachers need to know how to do that, and that’s what this platform does.”

For more information or to donate, go to Walgreens.com/metowe.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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