Sophia Kokores

Like many of the clients I serve, I too have struggled with feelings of loneliness and disconnection. About five years ago, I had completely burned out. I tried everything - changing jobs, dating someone new, going to therapy, traveling, experimenting with new wellness trends, going back to school for another degree - to try and fill the holes that had formed because of my own loneliness and exhaustion. But I still felt empty inside. No one else knew. On the outside, I seemed “so connected”. I seemed “happy.” I was showing up to work. I was showing up to events. But I wasn’t showing up as my whole self in any of these arenas. I was disconnected, fragmented, and pulled in so many directions. 

 

But during this time at work, I was tasked with designing a new social and emotional program for high school students for a network of 15 schools. This network-wide program was intended to address the depression, loneliness, anxiety, and suicide rates that were on the rise for youth, without the reliance on the few overtaxed therapists who had to serve more than one school at a time. My research became me-search. I came across Circles, a structure and process for students and their teacher to sit in a Circle to be their “whole selves” together - to resolve, to relate, to connect, to just be. Next thing I knew I was leading Circles for the Principals and Assistant Principals of these schools, and training all teachers across the network on how to run Circles for their students. But just as I was a facilitator, I was a participant too. The Circles were as transformative for me as they were for these educators. We laughed together, we cried together, and across differences in title, age, race, and socio-economic status, we bonded. It is my purpose now to re-create this experience for others, so we can all be gifted the time and space to connect with ourselves and to one another.

I have the experience and I also have the skills and traits to create and run this experience of connection for others. I have the gift of making each person feel seen, valued, and heard while simultaneously managing the energy of a group. In other words, like a loving parent leads a family or an effective teacher leads a classroom, I balance the individual with the group exceptionally well. This careful balance is imperative to life, as we are all individuals existing in many different collectives at the same time.

 

I also have a strong background in education and psychology. I have two Master’s degrees: one in Education Policy and Administration in conjunction with my Teach For America service, and the other in Positive Psychology, the science of well-being, from the University of Pennsylvania. I have 12 years of education experience, teaching middle school and high school students and coaching adult school leaders and teachers. I co-founded a company called Burn-in Mindset, a program that focuses on educator well-being based on my thesis work from Penn, and co-authored a social and emotional development curriculum that is currently being used in schools all over the United States. I also am the Director of Partnerships for Room To Breathe Project, a fund to support the best social and emotional programs for youth in The Bay Area. And mostly, I am here for you on your own connection journey.

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Sophia Kokores

Connection Experience Designer + Coach

Founder, OPM Collective

M.A. Positive Psychology, UPenn