Nahal Khalatbari – 6th-8th Grade School Psychology and Substance Use Prevention at Merrill Middle School – Denver, CO
Nahal discovered her path to becoming a School Psychologist after volunteering with students who were displaced and living in a shelter. She connected with them in the playroom and was inspired by their resilience. Realizing her calling to support children experiencing trauma, she pursued a Master’s and Ed.S. degree at James Madison University and was mesmerized by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her love of mountains and the opportunity to work with diverse communities drew her to Denver, where she has been practicing as an elementary school psychologist for the past five years.
Nahal means “little tree” in Farsi and the name fits, as Nahal has always been drawn to the power of nature since childhood. During summer breaks, Nahal found opportunities to live and work outside as a field guide with adolescents in wilderness therapy programs, many of whom were experiencing substance use disorders. This past school year, she was grateful for the opportunity to pursue that passion further as a Prevention Specialist with 6th-12th graders.
Nahal incorporates mindfulness into her daily work and strives to help students connect with nature. She has found mindful eating activities to be an exciting way to engage students. She is confident the Pilot Light fellowship will be integral in incorporating food education into her intention of fostering healthy decision making skills and positive coping strategies. In her free time, Nahal loves to ski, hike, paddleboard, camp, travel, practice yoga, and spend time with her family, friends, and puppy, Sprout.