As a chapter leader with technology skills, Thomas Pascarella took on the responsibility of setting up the entire staff at Brooklyn’s PS 48 with Google Classroom.
Like others, Pascarella had to rethink his work as chapter leader after school buildings shuttered. “I’m working in several roles now,” he said. “I am chapter leader and special education teacher and now technology adviser.”
PS 48 in Bath Beach is not a technology-centered school so Pascarella had to start from scratch to build up everyone’s skills and comfort level to quickly take on an entirely new way of teaching and support.
On the Monday following the mayor’s March 15 announcement, Pascarella set up accounts for each teacher on Google Classroom. On Tuesday, when staff returned to schools, training began in small groups and that night he programmed Google email accounts for 570 students. By Friday, at the end of what he described as a “very tense week,” the PS 48 faculty was ready for run-throughs.
“Some teachers jumped right in, and some moved in little steps,” he said.
Through it all, Pascarella has carried out his duties as chapter leader via emails, phone calls and text messages. He has answered members’ questions, allayed their anxieties and helped them navigate the new reality.
“We are no longer just teachers but students ourselves,” said Pascarella, a special education teacher for 14 years and a chapter leader for seven years. “This is all brand new.”
For him, being chapter leader has become a “24/7” job, but he’s pleased that everyone has adjusted to the remote era and that things are going well. He continues to keep his members informed as new information pours in and the DOE implements new policies and sometimes just as quickly revises them.
Pascarella is “our MVP,” declared Jamie Cardena, a kindergarten teacher and the school’s union delegate.
Cardena praised Pascarella for helping everyone — staff and students alike — get set up for remote learning and for making himself available to troubleshoot problems of all kinds at all hours.
“He’s always involved,” she said.