Advice From a CHS Teacher on How to Stress Less


Jessika Whiteside stands in her re-organized classroom. The other day, she had straightened the desks and color coded the seats in rows. “Maybe it’s a subconscious action to have control of something.”

Jessika Whiteside, a new ELA teacher at CHS, has noticed extra stress in students returning to in-person school and has some ideas to help. She believes everyone should be more forgiven of themselves and focus on the long run.

One of the ways she does this in her own life is to make time for things she enjoys to take a break from work. She plays the mobile game Toon Blast and also loves listening to audiobooks during breaks.

“I’ve started treating myself to playing or giving myself permission to enjoy an audiobook between phone calls to decompress,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside also recalls one of her students talking about a therapy technique involving a different perspective of life.

“Someone in my class, the other day, said something brilliant,” Whiteside said. “We tend to think about the world as either-or, but there’s all this space of and. You can be a good student AND be overwhelmed. We’re living in a pandemic AND we’re trying to recover.”

Whiteside, who has experienced many forms of education and seen many different kids, shares what she wants CHS students to know.

“Remembering that there’s that other side that we all get to,” she said. “Sometimes you have to forgive what’s happened to you before, so you can move on.”

She explained the meaning behind this using an example of a recent interaction with one of her former students.

“I just sent a wedding gift off to a student who was hospitalized and experienced some bad events,” she said. “But now, he has a wedding registry and is starting a new chapter of his life.”

During the day, students can forget that there will be a “next chapter” in their lives, buried under homework, tests and extracurriculars. However, Whiteside counters that mindset by asking daily questions to her students. Today, the question was, “If you could travel anywhere for 24 hours, where would you want to go?”

For Whiteside, it would be Antarctica. She explains her choice by saying, “I think of it as this peaceful place.” she adds that, although she has never been there, she thinks that it would be very quiet and tranquil in a sensory type of way.