This past year, PreK-12 educators and school support staff have faced new challenges while working with students to ensure their physical and emotional wellbeing during a pandemic. For school social worker Maria, her work as a feelings teacher and emotional coach for elementary school students in Denver, CO. looks a lot different than it did before the pandemic.
“School social workers think of themselves less as therapists and more as feelings teachers or friendship teachers, who teach and coach kids through a normal day of school,” Maria said.
Her job includes working with students with disabilities, working with the general education population, doing consultations with her teacher colleagues on best methods of care for students, and supporting families within the elementary school community. Before the pandemic, Maria met with students in person to talk through crises they were experiencing in school or at home. Now, because of COVID-19, she meets with students over video conferences instead.
“Students are coping with the pandemic in different ways,” Maria said. “I meet with some students on video calls who are doing just fine. Others are very confused and scared about what they’re hearing from the news and their families that there’s a possibility that if they get sick, then their family gets sick.”
Maria has always been there for her students’ to support their mental health needs and help them through difficult situations. This year, in addition to emotional support and new school supplies, her students also need PPE and safety equipment to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve purchased supplies that I never thought I would have to purchase as a school social worker, not only to take care of my own physical self but also to support students,” said Maria.
Maria spends an average of $400 each year on school materials to support her students. During the 2020/2021 school year she expects to spend even more when factoring in the cost of face masks alone.
To offset some of these personal costs, Maria has raised more than $300 on AdoptAClassroom.org to purchase school materials. She used some of her donations to purchase masks with a clear plastic window over the mouth. These clear plastic masks are essential tools when working with students with autism who are learning emotion identification. When Maria is teaching students to identify “feelings faces” and emotions, students will now be able to see her expressions through her mask.
Maria needs more protective equipment than just face masks to do her job effectively. Some of her students need a special education evaluation where they’ll have to sit close to her while completing the assessments. To keep everyone safe during the assessments, Maria will need protective barriers and face shields.
“Having a face shield, having a barrier, that just allows us to more directly support the student and guide them through the things we need them to do, so we can assess them without sitting six feet across the room and only giving verbal directions,” said Maria.
The work of supporting students’ mental health and social-emotional learning during this ongoing crisis is more important than ever. If you’re a school social worker like Maria, AdoptAClassroom.org wants to help you get the safety equipment and school supplies you need to continue supporting your students, without having to spend your own money.
AdoptAClassroom.org is not just for PreK-12 teachers and principals. If you’re a school social worker or other qualifying school support staff, register on AdoptAClassroom.org and create a classroom fundraising page to be eligible to receive funding from individual donors, our corporate partners, grants, and other AdoptAClassroom.org funding opportunities! Register here.