At Inside SEL, our mission is to act megaphone, amplifying the great work being done by leaders in education and social-emotional learning across the country. On a regular basis, our team speaks with administrators, educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and policymakers who are innovating within the field of SEL and works to help share their stories.
In early January, we connected with Nicole Batiste at Hub for Helpers, a team of helping professionals that work together to develop direct counseling materials. All of their resources are inspired by and created for a diverse clientele base and support evidence based practices. The Hub for Helpers team is proud and privileged to be one of the first online market places where licensed professionals can browse and purchase affordably priced materials without any membership fees.
Nick Woolf: Tell me about your background and career path. What ultimately led you to start Hub For Helpers?
Nicole Batiste: I started my career as an elementary educator at a Title 1 school. While working as a teacher, I was inspired to eliminate obstacles to education through social work. I obtained my Masters in Social Work and became a school social worker at one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Houston. While there, I felt the need to reduce the stigma to mental health supports by creating engaging materials to use during groups and individual sessions. I created Hub for Helpers as a response to my students’ positive outcomes, in hopes that other professionals could use the materials to help the clients they serve.
Nick Woolf: What is the mission of Hub For Helpers?
Nicole Batiste: The mission of Hub for Helpers is to transform the the helping profession by having an online library for all licensed therapeutic professionals to access, high quality, interactive, low cost materials. We aim to help you help!
Nick Woolf: How has the experience been founding and leading your own business?
Nicole Batiste: The experience in starting this business has been a great leap of faith. I continue to work full time as a Program Manager in the Social Emotional Learning Department so balancing time can be a struggle. I am still a small business with only two employees so while expansion is the goal, capacity has been a challenge as well. Ultimately, I have been blessed to see the impact my materials have had on my customer base. I love seeing feedback that students’ really loved activities that I created. I couldn’t have done it without individuals that have helped me throughout the way.
Nick Woolf: What types of content is available on your platform? Who do you currently serve as clients?
Nicole Batiste: The content available on my platform continues to grow monthly. Hub for Helpers has interactive activities such as games, art activities and posters focusing on the many life skills. These include self esteem, goal setting, anger management, social skills, feelings identification and self regulation. My target audience is anyone who seeks to further SEL and Mental Health Initiatives with children. I have customers that are parents, teachers, therapists, school counselors and social workers, school psychologists and organizations that work with children.
Nick Woolf: With stress- and anxiety-levels on the rise in youth and adolescents, how has the role of therapeutic professionals changed over the past several years?
Nicole Batiste: I think the role has changed in response to increased stress in adolescence by a heightened emphasis on self care for the professional. Organizations are shifting focus to Adult SEL. I believe burnout and compassion fatigue has increased, but I also believe there has been a response to that through furthering initiatives for the individuals working with adolescents.
Nick Woolf: What have you learned from working with therapeutic professionals, educators and parents with regards to common pain points or themes when implementing social-emotional learning strategies?
Nicole Batiste: Some common pain points I have encountered in the implementation of SEL strategies is the tension between the need for them and time time and skillset needed to implement them. Stakeholders know that social emotional skills are necessary but I believe there isn’t enough value placed on implementation. Teachers struggle with the idea that SEL is another “thing” to do and not “the way” they do things. Through trainings and conversations with campuses, I try to increase the awareness that these skills need to be preventative rather than reactive. I have also seen some archaic attitudes with regards to teaching and parenting practices that I have to combat with more up to date SEL strategies.