PS/MS 95 The Sheila Mencher Van Cortlandt School: On the Other Side of COVID-19
By PS/MS Staff 95
As children, parents and teachers prepare for another new school year, nearly two and a half years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures, PS/ MS 95, The Sheila Mencher Van Cortlandt School, a public school located at 3961 Hillman Avenue in the Village of Van Cortlandt, reflect on the experience of being immersed in remote learning over two years ago and to have finally resurfaced in an in-person learning environment once again.
COVID-19 has forced us to dive into uncharted waters, turbulent technology, and concerns about student learning, health, and feelings. Katherine Aranda, a special education teacher at the school, said: “Teachers have moved from in-person learning to working behind the computer, and have reported spending even longer working days, thinking about how to move from ‘hands-on’ to ‘behind the screen’ learning. .”
For kindergarten teacher Sherlyn Estevez, the focus was on ways to connect students to what they needed to learn and involved staff finding new ways to do this, such as making video recordings before courses to teach subjects such as science.
Indeed, in addition to ensuring that student needs were met, faculty had their own impressions of the socio-emotional learning journey and wondered how they could reach students without a guide.
Tanya Powers, a special education teacher at the college, said: “We have been through some tough times. We have systems in place and got along really well for each other and for our students, especially to give them a sense of normalcy.
Powers added, “We had to quickly learn how to use technology and teach everything!”
The teacher, Johanna St. Louis, said that while some of the teachers had a strong technological background, it was still chaotic at first. “Then the students became familiar with the routines and in my mind, [that] became a ‘Giant Day!’
Deputy headmaster Daniella Savino said: “It was a time for testing emotions, but it allowed us to think about what students needed and how to give it to them.”
Savino added: “Returning to school was a time of adjustment, as it involved restructuring work habits, helping students understand school expectations and their own responsibilities.”
The Deputy Principal continued, “We have reinstated Social Emotional Mood Registration, along with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) classes and celebrations, supporting each student with the idea that building educators can help them with their feelings.
Savino concluded, “We believe that if students’ emotional well-being is supported, they can be academically successful.”
Meanwhile, reading coach Dr. Desline Brown reiterated Davino’s point, adding, “We care about the kids.”
Some of the PS 95 elementary students also shared their memories of the whole pandemic experience and how they feel about returning to the school building.
Ebenezer Peprah said: ‘Covid was scary’, while Sydney Jones said: ‘We had to adjust to a new way of life.
Esmeralda Garcia said, “It bothered me a bit, because we had to be in a virtual school and just be on computers,” while Kevin Lopez said, “We had to stay home. Then when we went back to school, we had to wear a mask.
Emoni Shaw said, “I wanted to be in school and I wanted to be me,” while Eduardo Tlahuice said, “I love being back in school; you can talk to the teacher more in person.
Director Serge Marshall Davis also felt the brunt of the whole experience saying: “It was an unprecedented change to shut down the whole world, but it also opened up possibilities to think in different ways, to provide assignments and activities. to engage students in learning, use digital-age technology, and highlight the benefits of social-emotional learning.
Marshall David added, “Our leaders are both empathetic and bring a level of cultural awareness to the educational process and experience of humanity.”
As of now, the staff at PS/MS 95 feels on track and ready for what the future will bring.
Elementary school student Kenneth Morales perhaps summed it up best for everyone when he concluded, “I feel like it’s going to get better and better!”
Editor’s Note: Like most public schools, PS/MS 95 should hopefully find out if there are any changes to the New York Public Schools budget for the coming year, following a August court ruling that called for review, following cuts announced earlier this year. In the meantime, members of the city council also alleged that they had been misled by certain officials of the Adams administration of the Ministry of Education who, according to them, were not transparent about the justification of the school budget cuts made during city budget negotiations. few months ago.
Meanwhile, during a recent televised debate broadcast Aug. 15, ahead of the Aug. 23 primary election for Senate District 33, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who has since declared victory in the race, said that additional funding had been sent by the state legislature for the city this year, and while he acknowledged that school enrollment was down, he said he did not understand why the school budget for the city was downsized in light of receiving additional funding from the state. Norwood News has contacted the DOE for comment in this regard. We did not receive an immediate response. Meanwhile, as also reported, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced on August 13 that he would block the property tax collection process, which requires his signature, while the budget for the The city’s education remained uncertain. On August 9, as Gothamist reported, an appeals court blocked the lower court’s earlier decision to revise the budget. Further legal arguments are expected to be heard in court in the coming weeks in order to reach a final conclusion on the matter.