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Senior administrator addresses Texas Hope Squad Conference

Nate Woods Jr., special assistant to the president for inclusion transformation at Pennsylvania College of Technology, addressed the 2022 Texas Hope Squad Conference, held recently in Arlington, Texas.

Created by educators in partnership with mental health experts, Hope Squad is a national peer-to-peer suicide prevention program based in K-12 schools. More than 1,600 schools in 41 U.S. states and Canada are engaged in Hope Squad’s mission. Hope Squad members are nominated by their classmates as trustworthy peers and trained by advisers.

Nate Woods Jr., special assistant to the president for inclusion transformation at Pennsylvania College of Technology, addresses the 2022 Texas Hope Squad Conference. (Photo courtesy of David Umanzor of the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.)
Nate Woods Jr., special assistant to the president for inclusion transformation at Pennsylvania College of Technology, addresses the 2022 Texas Hope Squad Conference. (Photo courtesy of David Umanzor of the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.)

In addition to encouraging mental wellness and reducing mental health stigma, the Hope Squad members strive to create a safe school environment, promote connectedness and support anti-bullying outreach. Over 45,000 students are serving as Hope Squad members.

Woods, a certified master trainer for Hope Squad, presented “I’m Helping Myself First!” at the conference. Learning objectives of the talk included accurately identifying burnout, evaluating options for self-care, implementing self-care activities, and preparing future preventative measures.

The gathering at the Arlington Independent School District Center for the Visual & Performing Arts was the first Hope Squad Conference held in Texas by The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation in partnership with Hope Squad. Penn College served as an event sponsor.

“Working with the Hope Squad has been a privilege and honor,” Woods said. “The opportunity to serve the students collaboratively with The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation and Hope Squad was meaningful, especially when I consider the fact that this foundation wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a student who isn’t with us any longer.”

The thousand-plus students at the conference had previously completed QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) training – training that is also offered to students and employees at Penn College.

“I’m inspired by the stories shared at the conference and grateful for the opportunity to meet with so many influential people,” Woods added. “While at the event, Penn College was recognized as a sponsor, and we provided materials for the students about the college (thanks to our Admissions Office). I hope that we can continue the great work on mental health here at Penn College and in the surrounding areas to work toward building healthier minds.”

Woods joined the Penn College staff in July. In his senior administration role, he is helping to lead the college’s strategic planning efforts by engaging the campus community in improving inclusive practices; working to strengthen relationships and facilitate discussions; and implementing strategies to support wellness, engagement, justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Woods earned a doctorate in strategic leadership from Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida; a Master of Arts in human services: marriage and family therapy from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia; a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies from Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and an Associate of Applied Science in general studies from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Salisbury, North Carolina.

The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation provides suicide prevention training and education for children and adults, as well as depression research funding.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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