After months of debate and deliberation in creating a new position to oversee student wellness, the Bexley City School District is welcoming one of its newest staff members to the team.

After months of debate and deliberation in creating a new position to oversee student wellness, the Bexley City School District is welcoming one of its newest staff members to the team.

Kimberly Brazwell, a graduate of Ohio State University with a master's degree in educational policy and leadership, has been on the job for a few weeks now and is eager to get started as the district's student and community support specialist as a new school year begins.

The new title was approved last winter by Bexley's school board after it months spent crafting the position.

According to Brazwell's job description, "The student and community support specialist promotes and enhances the overall academic mission by providing services that strengthen home, school, and community partnerships and addresses barriers to learning and achievement."

She said this job was a challenge she was quickly drawn to.

"I want to find a way to honor the work that those who went before me have already done, while bringing my own assets to the table," said Brazwell this week.

She said that involves asking three questions:

* Does the Bexley City School District provide a safe space for students?

* Does the environment there make people feel they are welcome?

* And is that environment inclusive?

Answering these questions will help her in determining the wellness of the Bexley school community, she said. After all, building a foundation for wellness is her primary task.

Wellness is something she feels passionate about, Brazwell said. But wellness is not simple. In fact, she firmly believes in the eight dimensions of wellness, an approach that is widely accepted in the health field and includes social, physical, intellectual, financial, spiritual environmental, emotional and occupational wellness.

"If we have a well school district, you have the eight dimensions of wellness," she said. "I am also asking myself how can all this work that's been done over the last seven to 10 years work into these eight dimensions of wellness."

She may not have all the answers right away, Brazwell said, and that is OK. The important thing, she said, is starting the conversation.

Superintendent Michael Johnson has been a strong proponent of this specialist position from the beginning and points to data collected this spring in student surveys about social and emotional issues as a strong argument for attention in this area.

"Youth reporting high asset levels are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as bullying, violence, sexual activity, drug use and suicide, and more likely to engage in thriving behaviors like helping others, succeeding in school and taking on leadership roles," he said. "A huge percentage of our students report that they lack assets."

While Brazwell said such assets cannot be taught, it's all about providing opportunities and breaking down non-academic barriers to success.

"It's a challenge to stay abreast of what those barriers are now," which she admitted are different than when she was a teen. "We have to be attuned to things today ... and to what students are having conversations about."

Brazwell most recently served as the manager of diversity initiatives at Columbus State Community College. She founded the nonprofit organization Hybrid LLC, designed to educate and support multiracial individuals, families and communities.

From 2003-07, she was the assistant director of Otterbein University's Career Development Center.

Since 2009, she has served as president of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education.