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Relationships, SEL Strengthened During District’s First Wellness Day

Durham Public Schools Student Support Services hosted the first districtwide, school-based wellness day on Friday, Oct. 27 to address physical, mental, and social health.  The Office of Public Affairs spoke with Dr. Laverne Mattocks-Perry, Senior Executive Director of Student Support Services, about the experience.

Q: Was its mission accomplished? 

A: Initial indications are that yes, the mission was accomplished because many schools engaged in activities geared towards students' wellbeing, areas of interests, and relationship-building. We will conduct a data analysis based on information gathered from our Principals, SEL Coaches, Restorative Practices Center Coordinators, and School Counselors, per a school-staff survey about the wellness day success, challenges. We’re also seeking suggestions from them for the upcoming Spring wellness day. 

Q: Did schools and departments report their activities to you? If so, what were some of the most innovative ones?

A: We knew that it would be an organic day at many schools. To that end, there were unique events, such as:

  • Grade-level and whole-school assemblies that showcased their community logo, motto, and values

  • Zumba and Yoga sessions by grade-level

  • Kindness Wall (mural painting) where any students could participate

  • SEL Curriculum lessons, Xello Interest Inventory and Lessons

  • Physical fitness activities, including outdoor sports

  • Culmination of a "Wellness Spirit Week" with a career dress-up 

  • Book Character Day

  • Daily Affirmation Pep Rally

Southwest Elementary School’s theme for its wellness day was “You Belong.”  Principal Nicholas Rotosky sent a thank you to DPS leaders with a link to a video production that illustrated the theme: “Thank you, Durham Public Schools, for our first Wellness Day and to Dr. Pascal Mubenga for suggesting that we do this activity. Most importantly, A BIG THANKS to all the great people of Southwest Elementary School and Russell Brandon (EC resource teacher) for collaborating together and creating this movie.  Hope this movie brings a smile to your face and makes you pause your busy day to be grateful for what we have in Durham Public Schools.  Enjoy.”  Watch the three-minute movie here.  


Dr. Mattocks-Perry, who espouses Dr. James Comer’s belief that ‘no significant learning can occur with a significant relationship,’ said that what may be seen as rather benign services are actually critical to a child’s academic success.


“These wellness days have been designed in cooperation with our nurses, counselors, social workers, principals, and teachers to ensure that our students and staff consider school a destination where they feel safe and supported,” said Dr. Laverne Mattocks-Perry, Senior Executive Director of Student Support Services. “We are committed to providing an environment that supports the mental and physical  health of our students and staff.”

The next Wellness Day will be held on April 26, 2024.