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A tale from Lori Perry, social worker for school-based support programs

Social worker for the school-based support program at PS 44 on Staten Island
New York Teacher

My line of work is very personal, and this year has made it challenging.

Before, I was always visible. Everybody, parents and kids, knew who I was. I’ve been in my school for 19 years, so I have former students coming in as parents now. I had a breakfast group where kids could come when they had a bad morning. The kids called it Mrs. Perry’s Breakfast Club. That’s gone now.

You take on different roles now within the school because there are fewer staff and fewer children in the building at a time. The children want to sit and talk to you because they don’t have that anymore. They’re missing out socially. School is all about the social element and it’s gone for these kids. It’s difficult for them. You can’t even walk around the building like you used to. I do see my counseling students but half of them are fully remote.

My students’ families are overwhelmed by remote learning. Things get lost in a telephone conversation that can be better explained face to face.

The process for setting up or changing services also takes longer. You have to contact the parents, send them things through the computer and they send them back to you, then more paperwork. It’s a very frustrating process.

But one thing I have learned is that you have to be creative and adapt to the situations at hand. I have provided my parents with strategies to use within the home to help them and their children get through the day. My students just want to know that they are not forgotten. I also join some Google Classroom meetups to see the students, and I have become more involved with different committees within the school building that are geared toward helping students and teachers.

The bottom line is, I miss the old school days. I welcome the day when we can all go back to full-time in-person learning.

As told to reporter Marlow Murphy