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Staying Connected

JPS?School Psychologists Support Social, Emotional Learning

Love Elementary School staff brought their weekly POP assembly to their kids and families online through a video set to the song “Don’t Give Up on Me” choreographed and edited by music teacher Jennie Cross.

Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, students, parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to a new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this is easy, but JPS school psychologists are ready to help connect with students and families that need their assistance during this time.

Mary Soto, school psychologist at Love Elementary and Washington Middle Schools, has created a Google Classroom to support social and emotional learning. Every Wednesday, resources and activities related to self-care or social-emotional topics are published with a related question. Upcoming topics include: bullying, feelings, goal setting, kindness, persistence and trustworthiness.

“I created the classroom because I wanted to continue to support students during the time that school was closed,” said Soto. “Especially since I knew that the global and local events would be causing extra stress for students. All Washington students are invited to the classroom. Every day, I post a question to keep the students engaged. I also periodically post community resources or activities to help the students stay busy. For example, I posted an in-home scavenger hunt and how to create a Covid-19 time capsule. I have also invited Kellie Sims from Chautauqua County Mental Health, as an active classroom member who frequently interacts with students.

Soto is just one JPS school psychologist who is using many different ways to connect with our JPS family. JHS School Psychologist, Susan Mead, is checking in with students and families through email and Facebook. Kimberly Kennedy, school psychologist at Jefferson and Persell Middle Schools, is connecting with students and families via email and phone calls. Molly Williams, school psychologist at the Technology Academy, checks in with her families via email, phone calls, and Facebook. In addition, each Tech Academy student receives a packet of information regarding social and emotional resources and receives information through a newsletter sent by Principal, Cindy Johnson. Ashley Genco, school psychologist at Lincoln and Fletcher Elementary schools, has a website, which she updates regularly and includes a section called “Social/Emotional Resources for Home.” Genco also uses the Remind app to connect with students and families. School Psychologist for District Preschool Programming, Laura Vincent Inman, works with local preschool providers to ensure that students are receiving their services throughout the school closure.

As a school psychologist, it is important to maintain contact with families and to continue to be a resource for them, as well as the special education teachers, that I work with,” said Anna Tryniak, school psychologist at Ring and Bush Elementary Schools. “This is uncharted territory for all of us and parents want to feel confident in knowing that their child’s needs will continue to be addressed, both academically and emotionally.”

Tryniak is using multiple ways to connect with her students and families during this time. She has a webpage on the district website under Bush and Ring Elementary Schools, which includes; Covid-19 Social Stories, NASP Parent Letter, Social/Emotional Activities and a community resource document. She is also using the Remind app with the four self-contained special education teachers that she works with. She created a classroom for each teacher where parents could reach out to her if they had any questions or needed any support.

All of the school psychologists also participate in special education meetings through teleconferencing and take the opportunity to connect to special needs families. If any JPS family or students needs extra help, or someone to talk to, during this time, please do not hesitate to contact the JPS school psychologist directly by email, which can be found on the district website at jpsny.org/contactus.

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