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Letters from an online schoolhouse
From Lori Blakeslee, adult literacy teacher
 We have been engaging in online classes using Zoom video conferencing since March 24, with an estimated increase of 30% or more in attendance/contact hours. Students are eager to  participate in class, allowing each of us to continue with some sense of "normalcy" and social connectivity while not allowing this virus to interfere with our goals of earning a high school diploma or learning English. These students should be applauded for their perseverance, work ethic and terrific attitudes. 
 
 
From Elizabeth Russo, teacher at WLC
I spoke to a student for the first time today since all this started and he was SO HAPPY to talk to me. I wanted to cry. We could've talked for hours if foster mom didn't need her phone back. He was telling me about his pets, watching stuff on Netflix, helping the family with farm work, asking questions about school work and if I could send him another WLC Wovles pencil. Just going on and on. He asked me to say hello to everyone from school and from class. It as so nice hearing him after trying so hard to get a hold of them this past month.
 
From Jenna Wolf, cosmetology instructor
Trinity is a junior student from BHS in her first year of cosmetology. She typically does not wear makeup to school because she has told me she doesn’t want to get up that early. Last week I had the pleasure of having a one-on-one makeup tutorial with Trinity over Face Time. We were on the phone over an hour. She showed me all of the products she was using and explained how to achieve her look in great detail. I enjoyed this so much and if this school closure wasn’t going on I probably would not have gotten to know this side of Trinity. It was a nice way to have fun with one of my students and get to know her better.
 
Picture above: Trinita working on her cosmetology skills from home  
 
 
 
From Maria Keesler, Principal, West Learning Center
“Many of our students struggle with changes in routine and we are trying to keep as strong a sense of normalcy as possible. We recognize that social-emotional needs are every bit as important as the academic ones. For that reason, we continue to focus on the six biosocial needs of belonging, responsibility, achievement, purpose, exploration and safety. Even though we are not all together in the building, we know we can and must continue to reach out to the families we serve and do all we can to support them in meeting these needs.”

From Jamie Robinson, Special Education Teacher
“I have set a class Facebook account to give daily encouragements and updates on assignments. I also Facebook message students. This allows them to ask questions and express concerns. I have also offered students video conferencing if they want to set up a time.” 

From Marieniva Eugen, Clinician
“The shift to doing things online has been as much of an adjustment for me as it has been for our families, but I am grateful for technology that allows us the opportunity to be innovative and creative during this time of social distancing. The clinical team will be using their Facebook page to post updated information on food resources or any new news regarding the virus. We will also be doing a Facebook live group therapy once a week, and individual therapy via phone, video chat, or whatever form of communication works best for our families.”

From Michael Pokorak, Special Education Teacher
“The shift to full remote instruction has been difficult for all involved but everyone’s ability to be flexible and understanding has helped tremendously. I truly appreciate the staff, parents’ and students’ willingness to try new things. Facebook has been great at allowing everyone to stay in communication with each other.”
 
From Natalie Malick, Special Education Teacher
“As this experience thus far has been intimidating and stressful, I have enjoyed seeing how quickly everyone in this profession has embraced this challenge. When trying to decide how to reach my families I had to think about the platforms they have access to and adjust my teaching accordingly. I created a Facebook page where I am able to message families, post resources, and post read-a-louds. Recording myself reading at first was awkward and out of my comfort zone, but reading the children stories was my favorite part of our days and I knew I had to continue it!”

From Theresa Hock, Clinician
“I have called each youth and their families over the past week. We have had some fun chats about how they are spending their time-school work, movies, video games, exercise, and how to stay connected with their classmates through our private Facebook class group. Some of the kiddos seemed pleasantly surprised to hear from me. I have taken this opportunity to share a positive experience I have had with the youth to their parent/caregiver. The smile I can hear in their voice has been really nice.“

From Maria Keesler, Principal, West Learning Center
“Feast Fridays with Tia and Russo - Two of WLC’s Reclaim staff, special education teacher Elizabeth Russo and therapeutic support specialist TiaMaria Pulling, have decided to take their love of cooking to Facebook. They will be posting on Friday’s starting next week. The plan is to switch between sweet and savory recipes each week. We are really hoping that our families, students and even staff participate, to keep the feel of community while we are away from each other. They will be posting the recipe along with the video. The first video should be up and running…. Chocolate Chip cookies! YUM!”
 
From Steve Moschak, Assistant Principal for Career & Technical Education
"It's been pretty amazing seeing a bunch of teachers who pride themselves on daily hands-on learning working their tails off to convert those experiences to distance learning."
 
From Stephanie DeMann, Instructor, Animal Science
"This simple reply from one of my students made my day:  Re: Don't you forget about me!!! Hey Mrs. DeMann. I wanted to say I hope you're staying healthy and have a good week. - Tessa Myers"
 
From Julie Raway, Registered Dietitian, BOCES Food Services
April 1 - We started with 39 sites and then expanded by adding bus drop off sites and adding additional sites to reach more kids. We continue to expand based on community feedback of areas that need to be reached to ensure kids are nourished. We have had school nutrition professionals dress up in costume and design awesome signs to hand out meals creating a fun environment in this stressful time. From our warehouse to our front line school nutrition professionals, all have been amazing!! We have also had donations from the community and companies to further support our mission to nourish kids. Our community has been very appreciative of what our school nutrition professionals have been doing- which is truly amazing!!  
 


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Broome-Tioga BOCES   435 Glenwood Road Binghamton, NY 13905 Phone: (607) 763-3300
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