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SDCOE Champion for Student Wellness Honored with Award

SDCOE Champion for Student Wellness Honored with Award

Mara Madrigal-Weiss, executive director of student wellness and school culture for the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), was awarded the first Wellness Together Mental Health Innovator Award, sponsored by Blue Shield of California. Madrigal-Weiss is one of three leaders selected by Blue Shield and Wellness Together for their innovations and commitment to student mental health.

“Since 2019, Blue Shield’s BlueSky youth mental health initiative and Wellness Together have worked to provide culturally responsive mental health supports for middle and high school students in California. The awards recognize leaders who have been integrally involved in these efforts,” said Antoinette Mayer, vice president of corporate citizenship for Blue Shield of California.

Madrigal-Weiss was recognized for her leadership not only within San Diego County, but across the state. As chair and vice chair of the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, she has played a key role in strengthening multidisciplinary partnerships to meet the needs of youth and address challenges in providing equitable, high-quality access to care for students. 

“It is an honor to be recognized for the work,” said Madrigal-Weiss. “I happily accepted the award on behalf of the wellness team that I have the honor of serving alongside every day. Their passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to excellence in meeting the ongoing mental health challenges of our youth is inspiring.”

SDCOE’s Student Wellness and School Culture team is viewed as a go-to group of experts for county offices of education and local community partners. They were instrumental in the development of the Mental Health in Schools Collaborative and the subsequent creation of the statewide County Office of Education Mental Health and Well-Being Collaborative, which SDCOE still facilitates. The team also leads the Statewide Student Suicide Prevention Partners Meeting and regularly partners with young people to inform decision-making about mental health resources, supports, and programming. Such youth-led creations and collaborations include the Teen Guide for Mental Health and Wellness, a web page where space is held for resources created by teens for teens, and the statewide Mind Out Loud student movement. 

“Addressing the mental health and wellness of all students is one of the most important issues we face right now,” said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “I am thankful for Mara’s leadership as SDCOE has sought to create and offer resources for students, families, and schools to ensure that our youth are cared for and have all the tools they need to succeed.”

The Wellness Together Mental Health Innovator Awards were presented at the 7th annual Student Mental Wellness Conference held this month at the Anaheim Convention Center. The conference brought together a wide range of professionals – from educators and school administrators to mental health advocates and policymakers nationwide and beyond.

“Educators and school leaders are vital in promoting student mental wellness and cultivating a positive school environment. In a time where the well-being of our students is more critical than ever, these leaders shine as beacons of hope, forging innovative partnerships to respond to the student mental health crisis,” says Marlon Morgan, Founder and CEO of Wellness Together.

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Low-Cost Computers Available Oct. 7 in San Marcos

Families in San Diego can get used laptop and desktop computers loaded with educational software for as little as $100 at a drive-thru event Oct. 7 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at San Marcos Elementary School. The program is organized by SDCOE and Computers 2 Kids.