In November 2018, a Palmer High School (PHS) student, Zoe Nelles, was struck by a realization that her peers may not have weekend food security. Zoe took the initiative and reached out to a PHS teacher for help, and from there the PHS Sandwich Project began. In the beginning stages of the project, Zoe would make PBJ sandwiches in her home and used donated non-perishable food items to fill the bags. The first week 7 food bags were delivered to students on a Friday afternoon. Zoe continued to spear head the program for 2 years, through the spring of 2020, when she graduated.
Students and staff have been under increasing amounts of stress, from the pandemic, social media overload, and a myriad of other causes. This year, the Lighthouse Room was installed in the Valdez High School library (a central location within our building) to help students manage their stress and other mental health challenges.
Imagine this: It’s Monday morning. Over the weekend, one of your students, Gabe, challenged his classmates to post sexual images as a dare. Ana responded by posting an image of a faceless nude female to a group chat of 5 kids. The parent of a recipient in the group chat is calling the office looking for a response. What are you going to say?
I often use scenarios like this in workshops I facilitate for teachers demonstrating the need to proactively plan and implement a positive digital culture instead of just being reactive. Educators commonly respond to this scenario by stating they would talk to the students, call the families, involve counselors, and/or notify administrators. Some say they would involve law enforcement. When asked how long it will take to contain the drama and repair the impact of the student actions, nearly all raise eyebrows and shake their heads.
As Alaskans know, living in remote areas under harsh winter conditions can be challenging. Add in the fears, restrictions and isolation of a pandemic, and life can be downright overwhelming. In response to those shared challenges, staff at North Slope Borough School District (NSBSD) started a ‘Messages of Hope’ campaign asking students to draw and share what hope means to them.
Last Spring, a third grade teacher asked me to join her Zoom class to introduce myself as the new Elementary School Counselor for Fall and to share a story to address anxiety. We were at the start of the Covid crisis, adjusting to remote learning amidst a worldwide pandemic.
I unpacked my puppets and introduced the class to a shy anxious turtle named Bartholomew. I told them Bartholmew moved to Seward over Spring Break, right when Covid hit, and now I can’t get him to come out of his shell. I asked them to help by sharing what they like to do when they feel scared, worried or shy. One by one kids raised their hands and told me different coping strategies that worked for them. As the students spoke, Bartholmew slowly poked his head out, and I thanked the kids for making him feel less alone.Continue reading ‘Puppet Play To Support SEL During COVID’ by KPBSD School Counselor Christy Jordan