“My appointments were on Sunday afternoon so I could do them in my pajamas from my house.”

Remote counseling helps new principal cope.

A series of family losses prompted Harvard-schooled educator Ashley Croft to return to the Volunteer State, where she landed at Inglewood Elementary.

“It was my first year as a principal,” Ashley says. “And I got engaged within six months of moving back.” 

Just a few months after that joyous event, tornados struck Nashville, impacting many kids at her school. Two weeks later, COVID-19 shut down schools. Then Ashley received troubling news about her mom’s health.

“We thought she might need a heart transplant,” she explains. “She was going to all these doctor’s appointments, and no one could go with her. I was stressed and anxious all the time.”

While visiting the MNPS Health Care Centers, Ashley had heard about a new benefit MNPS offered: virtual therapy, offered through Synchronous Health’s Connect with Karla® program. In need of some serious stress busting, Ashley signed up, but she had reservations.

“I had tried therapy before,” she says. “It was always super inconvenient to get there. And I just never was able to find somebody I liked.”

This time was different — Ashley found a therapist she connected with. And her visits couldn’t have been easier.

“The fact that it was virtual was huge for me,” she says. “And that it could be on the weekend, in a spot where I could be focused and engaged.

“My appointments were on Sunday afternoon so I could do them in my pajamas from my house,” she adds. “And it was totally free therapy weekly — normally that’s crazy expensive.”

When Covid-19 hit, Ashley had to navigate the unknowns of leading a school during a pandemic. But now she was equipped to handle those stressors. She liked that her therapist didn’t seem intent on trying to “fix” her but listened carefully and helped her arrive at her own revelations.

“I would say something and not realize it was an epiphany,” Ashley says. “She would repeat it back saying, ‘Listen to what you just said.’ And I’m like, yeah, that’s really powerful.”

Ashley recently graduated from the program and now only checks in with her therapist as needed. She was so impressed with Connect with Karla that she keeps pamphlets at her desk in case another employee might benefit.

She believes her work with the therapist not only helped her be a better principal but also a better wife.

“I didn’t necessarily believe that it was going to help me, but I knew that I had to try,” she says. “And here we are almost two years later, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come.”

Ashley Croft

Principal

Inglewood Elementary