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WGU School of Education

Educator Well-Being Podcast

Educator Well-Being:
From Principles to Practice

This podcast is brought to you by Utah First Lady Abby Cox and Western Governors University Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the School of Education Dr. Stacey Ludwig Johnson, facilitated by Marty Carpenter of Northbound Strategy. This limited series focuses on supporting teachers nationwide by providing strategies and resources to help educators thrive. It can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and video of each episode is available on WGU's YouTube channel.

This podcast is designed as a discussion forum with topics important to classroom teachers – as well as school district leaders and other community members who have a vested interest in the well-being of our nation’s educators. Hosts and guests will share practical advice, tips, and tools to support teachers and help them thrive. Also included in each episode are reflective questions to help expand educator expertise.

Dr. Stacey Ludwig Johnson

WGU Sr. Vice President and Executive Dean of the School of Education

Abby Cox

Utah First Lady

Marty Carpenter

Partner, Northbound Strategies

Episode 4

A Purposeful Priority: Conversations on Teacher Well-Being

Teaching is one of the noblest professions, and the well-being of teachers is a critical component of student learning and overall community advancement. During this special podcast episode recorded at SXSW EDU 2024, hosts Dr. Ludwig Johnson and Abby Cox are joined by National University President & CEO Dr. Mark Milliron and Rady Children’s Hospital Senior Director Domonique Hensler to continue the conversation on the importance of teacher well-being. During this episode, the expert panel examines the key positive strategies to implement to sustain educator well-being in the context of teacher preparation programs and K-12 schools, and concrete actions that should occur to keep educators well, despite elements that can exist beyond their control.

About Dr. Mark Milliron

Dr. Mark Milliron is an award-winning leader, author, speaker, and consultant, who works with universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, foundations, corporations, associations, and government agencies across the country and around the world. He serves as President & CEO of National University (NU), one of the largest private, nonprofit universities in the United States. NU is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and has a 50-year history of innovating around the needs of military, working, and other nontraditional students.

About Domonique Hensler

Domonique Hensler is the Senior Director for Care Redesign Planning and Mental Health Integration for Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego and Rady Children’s Health Network. Her experience includes positions as a Fellow and Analyst at Sutter Health; a Network Manager for TRICARE Southwest at Health Net, formerly Foundation Health; and Executive Director of the Community and Family Network. Since joining Rady Children’s in 1998, Domonique has served in various leadership, strategic implementation, and project management roles in healthcare administration.

Dr. Stacey Ludwig Johnson, Utah First Lady Abby Cox, Dominique Hensler, and Dr. Mark Milliron


Episode 3

Supporting Rural Educators

In this episode, our hosts are joined by Rachael Black, a WGU graduate and an award-winning teacher. Together, they explore some of the unique challenges facing rural educators – from funding models and policy that can sometimes skew toward urban schools, to helping educators get access to the services they need to address mental and physical health concerns. Rachael shares some of her innovative practices that make full use of available resources, including regional grant funding. She also discusses the importance of collaborative learning groups among educators to build communities of practice that support each other and share knowledge, which is especially important as rural educators often teach more than one subject. Listen to learn about the positive outcomes of educators maintaining a growth mindset.

About Rachael Black

Rachael Black is a passionate educator with a strong commitment to transforming education in rural communities. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from WGU since 2016, Rachael is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology. With an impressive eight years of teaching experience, she has been recognized for her outstanding contributions, including a nomination for New Teacher of the Year and winning an Innovative Teaching Award from Aledo (Texas) Independent School District. Rachael's dedication extends beyond the classroom, as she has successfully secured over $160,000 in educational grants for innovative teaching projects. As a published author, Rachael shares her insights and experiences, advocating for accessible education for all. She has spoken before the Texas Senate in support of a bill aimed at increasing financial aid for adult learners. Rachael's journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment to creating meaningful learning experiences and championing educational equity in rural settings.

Rachael Black


Episode 2

Thriving Teachers, Schools, and Communities

In this episode, the hosts are joined by Amelia Azul-Elgas, learning experience designer/online community engagement specialist on the Healthy Learning team in WGU’s School of Education. Together, they explore the traits and characteristics that can help create environments where teachers and students will thrive. Azul-Elgas talks about taking a research-based, character-focused approach that contributes not only to the well-being of the teacher, but also to the classroom, school, and the community it serves. They share empirical data and results from 500 worldwide studies with more than half a million students to understand what works in this holistic approach that begins with self-reflection and includes compassion, empathy, respect, critical thinking, and other key proven characteristics to positively impact teachers while also creating healthy thriving classrooms. The panel also shares personal and professional experiences that highlight the importance of teacher candidates having this training embedded in their curriculum to build resilience and reduce burnout.

About Amelia Azul-Elgas

Amelia Azul-Elgas is a former classroom teacher who worked with more than 3,000 pre-service teachers as faculty in the WGU School of Education during her first seven years at WGU. She currently serves as learning experience designer/online community engagement specialist on the Healthy Learning team in WGU’s School of Education. She is also the elected director of membership for the WGU Latinx Employee Resource Group. With over 25 years of experience in education, community, and government organizations, Amelia is passionate about advancing equity and thriving in education. She holds a master’s degree in Education from UC Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Community Development from New College. She also has a certification in trauma-informed Dynamic Mindfulness from Niroga Institute.

Amelia Azul-Elgas, Learning Experience Designer and Online Community Engagement Specialist


Episode 1

The Importance of Healthy Learning and Working Environments for Teachers

In this episode, the hosts are joined by Dr. Mamie L. Pack, WGU’s Manager of Healthy Learning. In a “Help the Helper” approach, Dr. Pack shares the six Healthy Learning Pillars at WGU that are being integrated into the curriculum for teacher preparation, and explains why helping teachers requires a holistic approach. The conversation goes deep into specific steps teachers can take to protect and grow their healthy learning and working environments through self-reflection, community, and advocacy,  all to increase educator wellness so teachers and students can thrive in today’s classrooms.

About Dr. Mamie L. Pack

Dr. Pack is the manager of healthy learning at WGU.  With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Pack is an innovative and transformational leader with a proven history of building safe spaces for faculty and students to thrive. As a thought leader promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, Dr. Pack is committed to amplifying diverse voices in education centering her work in restorative and trauma-informed practices to improve equitable outcomes for all learners. She is passionate about breaking barriers in education and creating inclusive environments for healthy learning. Dr. Pack holds a Ph.D. in Education and a M.Ed. in Divergent Learning.

Dr. Mamie Pack, WGU's Manager of Healthy Learning