◆ Children need as many coaches as possible to help them develop healthy beliefs, and set and reach goals.
Abigail Kurt-Mason is in her twelfth year as a School Psychologist. She has been with Lincoln County School District No. 2. and Etna Elementary for six of those years.
Raised in the small town of Carterville Illinois, Kurt-Mason was the middle child of three girls. She spent a lot of time outdoors and in extra-curricular activities like student government, dance, and track.
Nicknamed Gabby Abby, she was outgoing and loved meeting and talking with new people.
“Southern Illinois is a beautiful area filled with many lakes and state parks, perfect for camping and hiking,” said Abby. “I always had an intense desire to spend as much time as possible outside. However, during high school and college I was constantly pulled away from nature. As an adult, I am always searching for outdoor adventures.”
Abby met her husband, Jordan, on a rafting blind date set up by his mother. “The rest is history. He eventually convinced me to leave Colorado and backpack for four months in Patagonia, where we got engaged at sunrise by a lake on Mt. Fitz Roy.”
Drawn by the quality education that LCSD No. 2 offers and opportunities that Star Valley has for an outdoor lifestyle, they moved to Alpine a few years later. Jordan teaches for LCSD No. 2 which allows them time to enjoy the beauty of the region together.
When they decided to expand their family, they got a BOGO deal, and welcomed twin girls. Now three years old, the girls are full of life, love, and boundless energy. The family enjoys camping, boating, skiing and hiking.
“We are all madly in love with the beauty of this part of the world,” said Abby. We share our passion for adventure with the girls and believe in living each day to the fullest.”
Abby loves being the school psychologist at EES. She works in the Special Education arena conducting psycho-educational evaluations and serves as the school counselor.
“The relationships that I am able to establish with students, staff, and families are special,” said Abby. “The schools here have been extremely supportive of my passion to teach and practice Mindfulness. I believe my outgoing nature in addition to the personal struggles in my early life have led me to this profession. I am passionate about helping others – especially children – in working to overcome obstacles in their lives. I believe children need as many coaches as possible, so they can develop healthy beliefs about themselves, allowing them to set and reach goals. As a school psychologist, I knew that I could have a direct impact on students, giving them tools and skills to live more fulfilled lives.”
Abby is currently working on her certification as a Mindfulness instructor.
“Mindfulness is learning to focus your attention, to listen to your body, to have self-compassion, and to live in the present moment. Bringing this practice to education has been challenging, but with the support of my colleagues and administration, I am now teaching Mindfulness to all students at Etna Elementary School.”
“As part of this instruction, I teach students about their brains using educational neuroscience lessons. When students come to me talking about their amygdala, prefrontal cortex, or hippocampus, I know that I’ve made an impact. It’s a pleasure to follow students from 4 th to 6 th grade, as the connections that I develop with the students and their families is profound. I can feel those deep connections as a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach when my 6 th graders are promoted to middle school each year.”
Abby hopes to continue building awareness of the need to bring social/emotional learning to the forefront of education.
“We are living through difficult times and I believe that students cannot be expected to engage academically until their social and emotional needs are met,” said Abby. “I will continue to offer professional development for staff, and I hope to offer supports to parents and community members in the future.
With two New Year “intentions,” she is hoping to develop greater confidence and strength as a mother and as a professional. “I hope to develop my strength mentally and physically by continuing to push myself to do things that I have shied away from in the past,” said Abby. She hopes to climb the Grand Teton, paddle board the whitewater section of the Canyon, and to progress as a skier.
Abby said, “Our district is one-of-a-kind, and I believe we can have a significant impact on our kids through community partnership.”