A trying winter, a hopeful spring

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President's Column

Good things are happening

This is not a column about COVID-19. I promise. This is a column about you and the amazing impact you are having on your students this year, despite a list of challenges as long as my arm.
It’s about PSEA members like Jacqueline Wynkoop and Nicole Kohlhepp.

These secondary literacy coaches in the Bellefonte Area School District are the focus of the cover story in this issue of Voice. Together, they launched Bellefonte Reads, a community outreach project that puts books in the hands of children.

Jacqueline and Nicole understand that building literacy in the classroom is much more effective if kids have access to books at home. So, they go above and beyond to make that happen.
This issue of Voice is full of stories about members changing the world — members like Lezlie DelVecchio-Marks.

A Shaler Area Elementary school counselor, DelVecchio-Marks was chosen as Pennsylvania’s School Counselor of the Year for her efforts to encourage kindness and acceptance among her young students. Through a variety of program and teaching opportunities, she routinely reminds her students just how important it is to accept others and love themselves — just as they are. That’s a lesson we all need to hear, regardless of age.

Beyond the pages of Voice, we have lifted up the stories of remarkable PSEA members at our House of Delegates. In December, we highlighted several members, including Eileen Seitz.
Shortly after schools were closed last March, Eileen wrote and mailed letters to each of her 21 third-graders and included paper and self-addressed stamped envelopes so students could write back to her. During a time when so many of us felt isolated, Eileen provided her students with a concrete reminder that they were not alone.

So many stories emerged last spring and fall about the incredible versatility of education support professionals. As school districts shifted to fully remote instruction, many ESPs stepped up to take on new roles to keep students on track.

In the Ridley School District, for instance, bus drivers delivered meals supplied by the Share Food Program five days a week to families across the entire district. With both staff and community members hit hard by the pandemic, this program has been a win-win.

And, of course, we’ve highlighted stories over the past year of our phenomenal nurses and health care workers all across Pennsylvania who are on the front lines working with patients in hospitals and long-term care settings and with students in our schools and classrooms. You are the experts we rely on to keep us safe and healthy.

I said it a year ago, and I say it again today. You are all heroes.
You’re not heroes because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. That’s not what this column is about.
It’s about your willingness, as educators, health care workers, and support professionals, to go wherever your students are and do whatever it takes to make sure they are learning and growing.
You don’t need a pandemic to be a hero. You already are one.

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