For teachers and school guidance counselors, the 2020-2021 academic year has been like no other. In some cases, they’ve never met their students in-person — ever. Most instruction has been remote. And, it’s hard to tell when things might even get close to looking normal again.
But the combat that notion — and with the holidays here — one guidance counselor at the new Lyndhurst Middle School has taken unique steps so that all of the school’s students know their teachers care for them — and miss being able to see them face to face.
Maureen Colombo, in consultation with some of her colleagues and administrators, came up with a theme, “Same Storm, Different Boat — Coping With Middle Schoolers During a Pandemic.”
“There are a lot of sayings all over right now that we are in this together. But the reality is that even though we are all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat,” Colombo said. “Some of us have experienced real hardships since March, whereas others may have enjoyed the break from activity and the down time at home. Although we are not in the same boat, we can and will get through this storm together.”
To put this concept into action, Colombo and others have spent the last few weeks going to the homes of each and every student at the school for a visit. They wear masks, of course, and keep their distance. But it’s become a chance for parents and students alike to see their counselors, teachers and school administrators in person, likely for the first time since schools shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
So how did these visits come to fruition?
“The United States Coast Guard exists to protect America’s economic, national and border security,” Colombo said. “And so, Lyndhurst Middle School has developed the LMS Coast Guard to support LMS students and their academic, mental and emotional growth. The LMS Coast Guard will be coasting through Lyndhurst on any given weekday to surprise students and provide support and positivity.”
So far, the reception has been very positive. The visits take place weekdays while the kids are in the middle of their remote learning.
“This is a time like no other,” Colombo said. “We are all experiencing new stressors and overwhelming feelings and thoughts. While we may each be on a different boat with various resources and support, we want all students to know that no one needs to experience this pandemic alone. We are here to help.”
Damian Holck, an LMS seventh-grader, and his mom, Nancy, were impressed with the visit they got.
“We really liked it. It shows that people do care about others and their well-being and that there are people to talk to during these trying times so you don’t feel so alone,” Damian said.
Though last week’s snowstorm slowed the overall process down a bit, Colombo says the team has already visited 100 homes and the goal is to visit all of the 600+ students as soon as possible.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.