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What is a Mentor Coach and Do You Need One?

Athletes have coaches. Many entrepreneurs and professionals have mentors. They’re really the same thing. A mentor coach is a coach for your growth. Most of us weren’t formally taught how to grow successfully. A mentor coach can help you to figure out what you want to do with your life, set goals, and achieve them. They have experience in helping others to live fulfilling lives.

A mentor coach wears many hats:

  1. A mentor coach is a cheerleader. Life is easier when someone is in your corner. When you know you have support, it’s easier to take risks and chase after big goals. You always have someone on your side when you have a coach. *Your coach will also push you. They’ve seen plenty of clients attempt to avoid hard work and stressful situations. They’ll know when you’re playing games and push you to succeed.
  2. A coach provides guidance. It’s not always easy to make good decisions, especially when you’re stressed or fearful. And let’s face it, some folks just don’t make good decisions, period. A coach can help you to make wise decisions. * A friend can’t always be objective or completely honest, but your coach can. You’ll hear what you need to hear from your coach.
  3. A coach helps you to determine what you want to be when you grow up. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 68. A mentor can help you to determine what the next step of your life should be. If you’re feeling lost, a coach might be the answer.
  4. A coach will help you to find balance. Coaches are aware that there’s more to life than just money or a perfect classroom. They emphasize keeping things in balance. Health, professional success, relationships, finances, spirituality and leisure activities are all part of a well-balanced life.
  5. A coach is not a therapist. Therapists deal with past issues and traumas. Coaches work from the present moment and into the future. A mentor won’t help you get over a past loss or deal with the fact that you were bullied in junior high. A coach can guide you toward building a more desirable future.
  6. A coach isn’t required to have any training. There are organizations that certify coaches, mentors or trainers, but they aren’t necessary to hang out a shingle and make a living in these areas. Be sure to vet anyone you’re considering hiring. Since the barriers to entry are so low, there are plenty of coaches that aren’t good at what they do. * Pay attention to reviews and schedule an introductory session to see if a particular coach is a good fit. Choose carefully.

Do you need a mentor coach? A mentor coach won’t solve your challenges, but they can help you to help yourself. If you need a steady hand to guide you and a cheerleader to support you, a mentor coach can make a big difference. There are good mentor coaches and bad mentor coaches. If you’re looking for a mentor coach, ensure that you find a good one.

Texas Director offers Mentor Coaching services. Schedule your session today.

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15 Years of Training Directors

Kate and I (Carrie) have been teaching people how to direct childcare programs for 15 years. Did you ever wonder

Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?

Sorry.  My Texas roots are showing.  Every time I tried to just type where did we come from, that song just popped into my head.  Anyway…

Back in 2001 we were both working side gigs with a non-profit organization, focusing on helping women grow their businesses.  I was providing training and support to Registered Family Home providers and small child care centers.  Kate was administering a grant focused on job opportunities for low income  women.

They approached me to write a curriculum for a Director Credentialing course, but said they wanted to have an academic teach it.  That didn’t make sense to us.  Why not have the instructor be someone who has actual experience in the field and an academic write the text?  How could they answer questions that came up in class?  They wanted to ensure that the text hit all the points that a new Director needed to know, and so they wanted a “practitioner” to write it.  OK, I can get behind that.  I decided if I was going to create the materials, I darned well wanted to teach it!  Kate agreed, and we set off to create what is now Texas Director.

Cousins 2009.jpg

We researched, compiled our knowledge, filled out paperwork, and found a place to teach the first class.  We talked through everything that we wished we had known when we started from marketing tips to insurance to classroom arrangement techniques.  Writing the book was much harder than we thought it would be.  We were literally finishing it while we were teaching that first class.

We tweaked it during each class for the first year.  Sometimes it was just that we noticed a place where we needed to add punctuation, but other times we realized that we had not explained a key point well enough.

We knew that adults retain information better if they have short activities after each topic.  So, we had a quiz or work product that corresponded to each area. When the new Director was done learning about goal setting and all the ways they can use that tool to improve their center, there was a goal setting worksheet to go through to cement the knowledge and give a chance to practice the skill.

Everyone who has ever worked in pre-k knows that to really learn something, you have to actually do it.  You can teach Tommy that his name is spelled T-O-M-M-Y and show him the letters, demonstrate how you write it, but he won’t be able to sign-in in the morning until he holds the pencil and tries.  It will be a mess the first time, but he won’t master it if he hasn’t tried once.  That was the core of our teaching and evaluating philosophy.

It still is today.  A lot has changed in 15 years, but that concept and our commitment to making sure our Directors have what they need to start their careers off strong hasn’t.  If you or a friend is thinking about becoming a Director, let us help you.  You won’t regret it.

My time with Texas Director’s has been life changing! Your company
helped me really take charge of my career and give an amazing 
learning experience to lots of children, including my own daughter.
I have been working with children for over 17 years and obtained my Directors
License about 10 years ago! I have had the privilege of working
in so many different types of centers.
From the credential program and trainings you provide, I have learned the aspects of a great 
Center! – C. Monk

 

 

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Why Choose Texas Director?

A colleague asked me ,”Why should someone wanting to be a childcare Director in Texas choose Texas Director to help them?”  It is a good question.  One I had 20 or so answers to, but it all comes down to one thing: We will be there for you.

Kate and I started providing training and other services to Directors and teachers in 1998.  That means it is possible that one of our new directors was enrolled at a center that we helped that first year.  It blows my mind.  We listened to our peers and found ways to help them get the information and services they needed.  We created trainings based on what other Directors said they needed.

Director Credentialing

One thing centers needed was a way to get new Directors qualified to lead a program.  There were a couple of training groups that offered classes for new Directors over the course of a week, in a hotel in one of the 5 large cities in Texas, once or twice a year.  So if you lived in Lubbock, you had to take a week off from your center, drive to Dallas and stay in a hotel for that week.  That was not what we wanted as Directors, so we created a 2 weekend class, which worked better for the folks we talked to.

After doing those for a few years, Kate started exploring online learning and took Texas Director to the internet.  We were the first ones to offer online Director Credentialing.  We have 100% online classes, mixed online and live, and 100% in person classes.  Directors told us they needed different options, so we provided them.

Folks are telling us they need their new Directors to be qualified within the month. With our online and personalized courses, we have that handled.  They are designed to be able to be completed within a week if you push hard or a month at a steady pace.  Our Weekender course which combines online and in-person classwork is also designed to be finished in a month, but is only offered 6 times a year, currently.

Over the years other credentialing courses have come and gone.  What do you do when the company who gave you your certificate goes out of business?  For many folks, the answer has been to transfer your credential to Texas Director.  We allow folks to test in and join our membership if their company disappeared or they aren’t happy with the service and training they received elsewhere.  We will be here for you.

College

Some folks prefer the college route.  Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) issues Directors licenses to those who have related college experience or degrees.  Is this the best option for you?  Do you want material specific to running a child care center?  There are not many college courses in that vein.  You can find 20 classes that will help you run a classroom, which are great if you don’t have those skills but not many on center wide operations.  If you come from the classroom, you will want information about marketing, staffing, communication,  financial management, and business law.

Do you want to be a Director in less than a year?  If you need 3 business classes and 3 child development classes, you are probably looking at at least a year of college before you are qualified, presuming you are also continuing to work.  I will be 100% honest with you, DFPS often gives waivers for folks using this method to be come licensed, but I have a question for you: Do you really want to be running a center without knowing the basics of child development, classroom management, being a boss, taxes, legal issues and marketing?  Will that set you up for success?  Will your professors be available after class for you to problem solve when things go sideways.

I like college.  I have been a lot.  I take all kinds of classes that looked interesting or could teach me something I needed/wanted to know more about.  I have 2 degrees as does Kate.  (Hers are more impressive than mine.)  We hope you take college classes.  I am just not sold on it being the best way to get your Director’s license.

CDA

The last way DFPS licenses new Directors is with a Child Development Associate (CDA) and 2 college courses in business management.  The CDA is a wonderful, nationally recognized certificate showing proficiency as a classroom teacher.  To earn it you must have learned a fair amount either through workshops or college courses.  You have to have completed a 360 evaluation of your ongoing performance in the classroom and had an outside evaluator observe you working in your classroom.  I’ve always strongly encourage my staff to work towards earning their CDA.  If you are wanting to move from the classroom to the Director’s office, this may be a good option for you, but it has one big drawback.  You have to renew your CDA periodically, which means you must be working in a classroom.  As soon as your CDA lapses you are no longer a licensed Director.  Is it in your center’s best interest to have the Director working as a classroom teacher while running the center?

We’ll Be There for You

We love working with and for Directors, both in getting them started and in growing with their business.  No matter what happens, we are here to offer you support.  We create training materials, handbooks, and customized plans based on what a Director needs.

When hurricanes hit the coast our directors called us and we worked with them to get their centers taken care of.  When a center lost its lease unexpectedly we helped them find another location.  When a Director was threatened with a law suit, we were there.  When a Director wanted to open a second and then a third location we were there to help her.  When a center was having unacceptable staff-turnover, we were there.  When you need us, we will be there.

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How to Save More Money on Your Marketing Budget

Did you know that it typically costs a child care program at least five times more to obtain a new family than it does to retain a family?

And, for each one percent increase in family retention, that transforms into a seven percent increase in profits?

So, what does that really mean for you?

It means customer retention makes a lot more sense (and cents) than customer acquisition.

As a general rule, directors don’t feel comfortable with marketing. You go to all the expense and effort of attracting a new family and having them register and that’s something to be grateful for. But if it stops there and you let the family walk away without some plan in place to keep the relationship going, it’s a real waste. It’s not just one lost customer, it’s lost revenue and referrals that might have been.

A better tactic is for directors to focus more of their time, energy, and resources on nurturing and developing that relationship instead of being content. If you provide continual great service to satisfied customers then they’re going to refer others to you as well.

It just makes sense to focus more effort on marketing and selling to the people who already have given you money at least once. Instead, most directors continually focus their energy on trying to get more new families.

Of course, it takes work to build that relationship and obviously it’s one thing to get them, it’s another thing to keep them, and still another thing to keep them satisfied. How do you do that?

By continually providing them with the information and resources that they need. It’s really as simple as that and it’s a worthwhile use of your energy.

Here are some ideas for building on that relationship whether for an online or offline business:

  • Throw in an unexpected bonus when they sign up for your program.
  • Follow up with a thank you note or phone call. And at the same time see how they’re doing with your program and get feedback on what other services you can provide.
  • Send out a physical newsletter or an autoresponder series of emails and ezines to continue sharing helpful tips.
  • Connect with them on social media and refer them to other beneficial resources.

Successful marketing is all about making your customers feel special and well cared for.

Take advantage of this opportunity to have us set up your first Parent Survey or your Newsletter on MailChimp. Click here to go to our FACEBOOK PAGE and tell us TODAY, why you need our HELP!

Let’s connect,

Kate Young

 

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How to Help Someone Who’s Fighting Cancer

I had said about a month ago that I would talk a bit about my mother-in-law’s terminal diagnosis.  She has pancreatic cancer.  We are piling up memories.  Making sure that the younger grandchildren have time with her is a high priority.  Both my husband and I are able to offer support and BE THERE.  Not everyone can.

Cancer, unfortunately, is a fairly common affliction. Chances are good that you’ll eventually know someone who’s fighting their way through the disease. It may be a child at your center, a staff member or a person in your personal life. Avoid being that friend who doesn’t come around or call when someone you know is dealing with serious illness. Step up to be the one your friend or loved one can count on to help.

Consider these ways to help a loved one fight one of the toughest battles of their life:

  1. State, “I’m here to help you.” Then, mean it. Be definite and specific since a person with cancer needs people who will push forward and help them get the daily things done so they can rest and recuperate from chemotherapy and radiation treatments if they are going through treatment.  If they aren’t currently having treatment, they will still need help.
  2. Rather than ask what you can do, say what you will Be specific. “I can pick up your kids from school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while you’re getting chemotherapy. They can stay at the center and play with my kids until you get home. Will that work for you?”
  3. Cook dinner for your friend and their family every week. Make lasagna and buy a bag of salad and drop it off. Brew a big pot of soup and take it over. Make a Crockpot full of pulled pork, buy coleslaw at your local deli, and drop them off with fresh buns for quick sandwiches.
  • Providing nourishment and pre-made meals for your cancer-fighting friend can be the most loving thing to do for them and their family members. 
  • Be aware that they will probably have a smaller appetite than usual while undergoing treatment.
  1. Take them to therapy. One of the scariest parts of dealing with cancer is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. It can be a 3- or 4-hour session at the cancer treatment center followed by them getting a contraption strapped on that has an I.V. connected to it that continues to deliver more medication over the next few days.  Don’t feel you have to talk the who time.  Being comfortable sitting with someone in silence is golden.
  • Transporting to and from these sessions can be so helpful for family members that are overloaded with the stress of dealing with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Plus, family members often must continue to work to bring money into the household and can’t be available every day to transport.
  1. Ask when the best time is for them to receive calls. Keep in mind that your loved one who has cancer feels very tired and will be trying to nap and rejuvenate as much as possible. Make arrangements for when you’ll call so it won’t disturb them. You could also ask them to text or call you when they feel like talking.  When you are there pay attention to their cues, and cut the visit short if they are in pain or tired.  I know you miss spending time with them, but they may not be up to it for as long as you are.
  2. Be sensitive and understanding. If you’ve ever needed to be aware of someone’s feelings, it’s when a friend is coping with cancer. Your friend might be feeling cranky and annoyed. Or they might be crying and depressed.
  • Sometimes, if you just listen and acknowledge that their reactions are normal and they’re entitled to their feelings, it’s all that’s necessary to lend support.
  • Find something you can do with them that helps them feel like their old self.  For my mother-in-law it is flowers and gardening.  Is there a way to create a small way to bring that back into their life?
  1. Deal appropriately with your own feelings first. You might be feeling pretty devastated about the news that your loved one has cancer. Allow yourself to cry about it with your spouse or another friend before you talk with your sick friend. The image I used for this blog is the ring theory of grief.  When you are in pain you want to express that pain to others who are affected.  The key element is to share with people in the same circle or those further out.  Don’t go inward, they are dealing with it on more levels than you are.  If the people in the middle want to talk with you- fine.  Otherwise, share outward.
  • Lean on your journal to help you process your feelings and work to accept what’s happening regarding your loved one’s health. Giving yourself a day or two to adjust to the news before speaking to the friend with cancer (if possible) will help you focus more on how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.
  1. Make a consistent effort to take a positive approach. The fact is that many people survive cancer these days. Tell her you’re proud of how she’s handling the whole thing. Acknowledge how she continues to do whatever is necessary to cope with her illness. The more positive energy you can bring to her, the better she’ll fare through her recovery.

Do what you can to be a consistent, strong support to a loved one fighting cancer. You’ll be so glad you did.

Subscribe to this blog, to keep up with what is going on here.  We cover different topics that relate to directing child care centers.

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My First Time

Being a Director almost always also means being the marketing department.  I have just finished my first ever time to run promotions for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.  We have had them before.  I just wasn’t in charge of them.  I am not at all sure I did it well.  But I did it and that is a thing to be proud of.

Being a Director means I have to do things I am not 100% comfortable doing.  I remember the first time I got in front of a tv camera.  I was SWEATING!  But it was free publicity for my business and they wanted to talk to someone with skin in the game.  I was very excited that they called me.  I had been courting the station to some degree for a few months: watching as many news shows as I could and sending in email comments about news items that related to my business.  My childcare center was downtown, so it wasn’t hard to find things that were relevant.  Anything that had to do with downtown, children or families was liable to get a quick note from me.  This was well over a decade ago, so they weren’t as swamped by email as they are now.  I stood out, so I got a call and people heard about my center.

How do we stand out in today’s market?  Sending an email is unlikely to do it.  We all get far too many to count now.  We need clients to know we are here and are relevant.  We can advertise.  Lord knows, I do.  Everybody does.  How much do you believe in the ad copy you read or hear every day?  10%?  You may be conveying 100% true information, but people filter it out.  Marketing is more than buying a well executed google ad.  It is getting in front of people in different settings, so your customers start to know like and trust you.

How do you position your self as a knowledgable and likable person?  Getting on the local news might still be a good way to get noticed, but how do you get the news to notice you?   I have had some success with hand written notes.  They are the rarity now that email was back in the dark ages.  Tweeting images also has some traction.  You have to engage with them, build a relationship.

Texas Director helps a lot of my centers get into the paper.  Local papers need local content to stay relevant.  Having a great event that highlights a worthy cause or brings in dignitaries, is the key strategy there.  The images you send also play a central role.  Make sure you send both portrait and landscape pictures, because you never know what space they need to fill.  Believe me pictures of cute kids sell!  Your write up of the event should be as close to newspaper copy as you can make it.  The less work the editor or beat reporter has to do, the more likely you are to get in the paper.

The other time-tested way to get in front of your audience in a marketing capacity to build rapport is public speaking.  Half of you are shaking your head right now.  That is OK.  If there isn’t anything related to what you do that you can speak passionately about for 15 minutes you are excused.  Everyone else is still in this.  If you would rather poke your own eye out than talk to people you don’t know, then don’t talk to people you don’t know.  Talk to people you do know.  Do you have a book club, mother’s group, gaggle of gals you eat cheese cake with?  Those are your public.  Talk to them about your passion for your work.  Get comfortable with it.  Eventually one of those friends will say, “Hey, my friend Suzie was just talking about her problems in that area.  I need to put you in touch with each other.”  Voila.  Your marketing just worked!  Once you have done that a few times you might be ready to move on to  networking events.  I wrote about those on earlier so check it out if you aren’t sure your up to them.

This type of marketing is much more in my comfort zone than running advertising campaigns.  That is why it was my turn to run one.  I had to stretch my wings.  It may take a while, but I will get the hang of it.  I may never like it, but it is important that I know how it is done so that I can talk intelligently with my team who focus on that area and with clients who have marketing challenges.  Let me know about something new you have tried and how it worked.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Giving Thanks

I have been blessed to be able to work in early childhood education for more than 25 years.  I started off as an assistant in a lab school and have had pretty much every job available in center.  Amazing!

How many people get to earn their living in something that makes such a difference in the world?  Here at Texas Director we help men and women develop their leadership talents so that they can help hundreds of children.  Hundreds of children touched by each Director, and we have helped thousands of Directors. If you do the math, that means that hundreds of thousands of families have been affected by what I do.   SoI want to thank you for allowing me to help you.  The scope of what we do amazes me.

What you do each day is so important.  You are shaping the populace of tomorrow.  How you run your center affects how the families view their community.  The tenor of your classrooms sets the children up to be the best versions of themselves.  You help your staff be able to do their often stressful jobs with enthusiasm and skill.  You are a resource in your community.  How amazing!

It is difficult to remember to be thankful for what we get to do on a daily basis.  Sometimes, when there is a stomach flu wreaking havoc in the twos class, there doesn’t feel like there is much to be thankful for.  But remember when little Jaime brought you the picture he drew just for you?  Not many engineers have that happen on a Thursday.  What about when a teacher brought you a snack because they thought you could use it?  What a gift to work with such caring people!

Take time today to think about what you are most thankful for in your job.  Writing down one thing you are thankful for on the calendar before you leave for the day, is a great way to catch those moments.  I bet there was one today.   Share it below, to inspire other Directors.

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Creative exploits alleviate stress

Here is an affirmation that I created for when I get stuck and need help reminding myself that creativity is important.  Sometimes that means writing, but most of the time as a director my creativity is tapped in problem solving and lesson planning.  Hope it helps you.

As life throws a challenge my way, I respond positively to avoid feeling stressed.My response to tough situations is to engage my creativity.

When I take a time out to create something new, I feel like I am replacing negative energy with positivity. Inspired activities allow me to dig deep into my soul for a light that brightens the world.

Writing soothes my emotional burdens and releases my tensions.

My words both acknowledge and empower me.Being honest about my feelings is the first step to releasing their weight from my being. I follow up those open and honest words with words of empowerment and resolve. This is my creative process.

Although my singing voice leaves much to be desired, I sing anyway. Expressing myself through song lifts my spirit. The lyrics and melodies that I write are therapeutic.

My creativity pulls me out of the darkness and renews my spirit.

My artistry is a blessing. It builds me from the inside out. It fortifies my core to defend against any challenge in life.

Today, I am blessed because I know the value of my creativity. My difficult situations are more manageable today because I spend time being imaginative. Being transported to another world through inspiration gives me a chance to rebuild.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  • 1.   How else, other than through art, can I exercise my creativity?
  • 2.   In what other ways am I able to alleviate stress?
  • 3.   What value do I place on creativity?

PDF version of this affirmation available

 

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10 Ways to Deal With a Director’s High Stress

Being a Director is stressful.  We all have days that are considerably more challenging and stressful than others. Unfortunately, stress is hard on both your mind and body.

Too many high stress days can really take its toll. And what’s worse, you could even become so used to being in this “high state of alert” that you start to feel like it’s normal! Don’t let this happen to you.  Your family and center need you.  More than that you should take care of yourself, before you take care of others.

It’s important to develop some techniques that help you relieve stress and strengthen your self-soothing abilities.

When you’re struggling to stay calm, relaxed, and focused, try some of these strategies:

  1. Breathe deeply.Breathe in for 5 seconds and hold it for 5 seconds. Now exhale for 5 seconds. Do this 10 times and focus only on your breathing. These breaths should only be slightly larger in volume than a normal, relaxed breath.
  2. Take a walk.Practice the breathing technique above during your walk, focusing on your breathing, walking, and surroundings.Nothing else should enter your mind. If your mind insists on wandering to non-productive thinking, you might have to simply keep repeating, “Taking a step”to yourself over and over.
  3. Get some exercise.Any time of day is a good time to exercise. Comfortably tired is what you’re looking for. Work out your frustrations by going for a run or swim. Hit the weights and show them who is boss. Any exercise will do as long as there is some intensity involved.Shuffleboard isn’t going to cut it.
  4. Sit outside.A little time at the beach or park can work wonders. Find a relaxing spot with pleasant scenery. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and keep your mind off your challenges. Even 10 to 15 minutes can greatly reduce your stress.
  5. Take a day off.Everyone needs a break once in a while. However, on your day off, it’s important to avoid just sitting around and brooding about all of your current difficulties. Take your mind off of things and have some fun.Lose yourself in activities that you enjoy.
  6. Read.Find something engrossing to read. The ideal book would be able to take your mind off of things for a few hours. Ask your friends for some recommendations, or if you’re like most people, you probably have a couple of books on the shelf that you’ve never gotten around to. Now is the perfect time to read it.
  7. Listen to music.Again, it should be something engrossing that really captures your attention. Don’t be afraid to get up and dance; no one is watching anyway.
  8. Disconnect.No phone and no computer. Turn off everything that connects you to the outside world. Then you can really relax. Stay offline for as long as you can.
  9. Take a nap.There’s no better way to start over than to take a nap.When you wake up, it feels like another chance to start your day over. What happened before your nap is in the past! Now you can deal with it and move on.
  10. Hang out with people that are fun.Get the gang together and meet for a drink. Or have dinner with the friend that always makes you laugh. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little world. Being with others can jolt you out of that perspective.

Don’t let high stress get you down. The key is to actively do something about it.Some people develop a habit of being paralyzed when things start going sideways, but this does nothing to make you feel better or solve your stressful issues.

Actively relax so you’ll be better able to tackle your challenges. Use these tips to minimize the pressure and anxiety you’re feeling and take control of yourself and the situation. Dealing with your challenges effectively is crucial to living the peaceful life you deserve.

We will be putting out a complete Stress Management Workshop very soon.  Enter your information below to get updates about this class and periodic stress management tips.

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