Mrs. Tonya El-Hendi

Aayan Khan, Staff Member

SMHS welcomes a new staff member to our Wellness Center, Mrs. Tonya El-Hendi! Mrs. El-Hendi will be working with other Wellness Center staff members to better help the students that just need someone to talk to, whether it be about school, home, or the world. Mrs. El-Hendi is a counselor and a licensed therapist, getting her MA and PPS School Counseling Credential from Azusa Pacific University. She then later went on to get her Master’s in Social Work from Cal State Long Beach. “I was a teacher in juvenile hall and I liked talking to the kids more than teaching them so I went for a school counselor, “ Mrs. El-Hendi said. Before coming to San Marino, Mrs. El-Hendi worked in the county office of education for one year, facilitating the community schools initiative at Montebello H.S., which means bringing resources to the school to support students and parents. Prior to that, she was at Alhambra Unified for just under 10 years facilitating mental health services to students. Mrs. El-Hendi has come with high hopes at San Marino to help better understand the situations each and every student at our school goes through. “Right before I came here I was working for the county office of education in an administrative role. I missed working with students directly.” 

Now, behind the scenes, Mrs. El-Hendi is a human with a life just like the rest of us. She is married and is a mother of two, a 4-year old son and a 8-year old daughter. ‘The hardest part [of quarantine] has been trying to work with my kids at home. I love working and I miss sending my kids to school and having a school for me to go to,” Mrs. El-Hendi said. Mrs. El-Hendi grew up in Orange County, until she started working in Alhambra. Her favorite food is pizza, especially margarita frozen pizza, and adding many different toppings. She loves sea turtles, or any turtle, greatly. “My best vacation was spent in the Galapagos Islands swimming with the sea turtles on Isla Isabela,” Mrs. El-Hendi said.

Like all of us, Mrs. El-Hendi has been dealing with the difficulty of online school, especially as someone who usually sits down with students, and talks to them directly. “It has been unusual since I have never been on campus with students. I have met with a few students virtually but I would much rather be able to walk around and say hi to students to begin to build relationships,” Mrs. El-Hendi said. Due to online school, and quarantine itself, students have had to adjust their lives completely, which is very tough as a high schooler. “There are not enough allowable characters to really describe the impact of the school closures on students, the community and our nation as a whole. This pandemic is noted as an experience of trauma for all and especially students. The impact of isolation, screen time, disconnection, lack of opportunity to build meaningful relationships with adults, celebrating important milestones all have detrimental effects on mood and maintaining good mental health,” she said. However, Mrs. El-Hendi and the Wellness Center staff are working extremely hard to make sure students are feeling well and optimistic for what’s to come, enforcing the message of “Titan Strong.”

Mrs. El-Hendi is excited to be here at San Marino in this new opportunity, even through these difficult times, to help students in life as a high school student.