Staying Connected
Over the last few months, educators have navigated unprecedented obstacles with limited resources and guaranteed uncertainty. Throughout the crisis, New York State educators have led the nation in their acceptance of this challenge. Across our state, administrators, teachers, and school personnel have demonstrated their extraordinary dedication, support, and commitment to their students and our children.

The New York State Education Department wishes to highlight some of the examples of emotional support, equitable solutions, and instructional practices that New York's dedicated educators utilized to stay connected with the students of New York State during school closures. Read more below for stories that have been shared with us recently, or, if you have your own stories to share, please visit our Submit Your Stories page for additional information.
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Our Story
Wayland-Cohocton Middle School

Wayland-Cohocton Central Schools is a rural district in Steuben County, New York. When the school closed, the district's primary concern was the safety and well-being of students and families. Throughout the closure, Wayland-Cohocton Middle School continued to maintain contact with students beyond providing curriculum and content. Keeping students engaged during emergency remote teaching was a challenge undoubtedly faced by all school districts. Wayland Middle School seventh and eighth grade teachers created additional ways to maintain relationships with students.

Staying Connected: Wayland-Cohocton Middle School - Our Story

Students Keep History in Time Capsules
Horseheads Intermediate School, Horseheads Central Schools
Reminding students that they are a part of an important point in history, several sixth grade teachers at Horseheads Intermediate School asked students to create a time capsule as one of their projects during the pandemic. After providing video instructions about making a time capsule, they asked students to think about a container to use for their capsule, decide on their items, and create their capsule. Teachers also provided a template for any printed material students might want to include, and they asked students to consider when they would open the time capsule and where they would store it. Students were encouraged to share a photo of their work in Google Classroom.

The project was meant to be fun, without adding extra stress on the students, and to help them understand and be aware that they are living through an important time in history. "If you need more time than this week to complete this, take it," explained one teacher. "Make this something that you will look forward to opening in 10, 20, 30+ years!"

Pictures of cans with personal items in them to keep as a time capsule

Social Workers Host Food Drive and Donate Nearly 3,000 Pounds of Food to Long Island Cares
Eastern Suffolk BOCES (ESBOCES) Student Assistance Services
Social workers from Eastern Suffolk BOCES (ESBOCES) Student Assistance Services collected 2,950 pounds of food during two food drives. Gena Marino, an ESBOCES school counselor, organized the events to support the Harry Chapin Food Bank through Long Island Cares, Inc. Student Assistance Services is an ESBOCES program designed to address the social and emotional needs of students by placing professional counselors in schools.

Pamela Gittler (upper left), a school social worker from Middle Island, holds a box of donations to be donated to Long Island Cares. Lisa Solomon (upper right), a teaching assistant from East Northport, recruited the help of her community to donate 500 pounds of food. The food drive was set up in the parking lot of Sequoya High School, and donation boxes were placed far enough apart to accommodate social distancing guidelines. All food drive participants were required to wear masks.
Social workers from Easter Suffolk BOCES boxing donations from a food drive

Lean On Us
Fredonia High School Symphonic Band, Fredonia Central School District
This year's final project for Fredonia High School's Band was a creative tribute to essential workers during the COVID-19 epidemic. Seventy-five musicians recorded an arrangement of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me." The arrangement was written by Fredonia High School's instrumental music teacher, Andy Bennett, as a tribute to the community's essential workers. Over 400 Fredonia residents participated in this community-oriented final project!

Lean On Us (Fredonia Symphonic Band)
Lean On Us (Fredonia Symphonic Band)