How Maker Learning Network Staff Have Supported Each Other through the Pandemic

Social-emotional learning is foundational to our approach to education and leadership at Maker Learning Network. As our school facilitators and staff continually work to nurture our learners’ social-emotional well-being, we also need to take stock of our own.

Our need for collective support has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked Maker Learning Network staff to reflect on how their peers and colleagues have provided that support during this past year. Here’s what they had to say:

“My peers come to my rescue when I have a question and need help. I am never left hanging or alone when I am struggling. My supervisor, Kim, checks in on me emotionally on a regular basis. My supervisor, Rachel, gives me lots of good suggestions and writes back to me when I write her pathetically sad emails. My supervisors have helped me as an intern still in school by not overloading me with too many new responsibilities at once. Lots of training has been offered, which helps. Fall break helped. Upbeat, cheerful, funny staff meeting moments helped. Having the opportunity to play silly games and read aloud the festive holiday poem I wrote for the team helped.”
— Dena Garfinkel, Moderate-Severe Education Specialist at iLEAD Santa Clarita (SCVi)

“I appreciate my team’s openness and vulnerability when discussing what they and their families have been experiencing. Living life through rectangles is literally and figuratively isolating.”
— Jason Brockman, Social Studies / Aviation Facilitator, Colorado SKIES Academy

“My team leads and supervisors, Jeanne McNiff-Hendzlik and Emilie Evenson, have done an amazing job supporting me as I have acclimated to iLEAD. Since K-3rd grade have been new to iLEAD Online, it has been nice to feel like I’m not alone.”
— Carrie Celaya, 1st Grade Facilitator/Coach, iLEAD Online

“The commitment. I work with two other teachers, and we all carry the responsibility for our classrooms together and always accommodate for our students.”
— Justin Rodriguez, 1st Grade Facilitator, Little iLEADers

“Special phone calls during difficult times and receiving a card when I didn’t expect it with a Starbucks gift card!”

— Christy Hatfield, Educational Facilitator, iLEAD Exploration

“My team is incredibly supportive and adaptive. They understand that we are going to struggle, and they step up to help. Need someone to watch your class? They are on it. Need someone to bounce ideas off of because you aren’t sure it’ll work online? They take the call. Just need to talk because you are overwhelmed? They will make the time.”
— Kevin Becker, Upper School Facilitator, iLEAD Santa Clarita (SCVi)

“I appreciate how relatable they are and that they laugh at my attempts at humor. I am an ‘old war horse’ with nearly 27 years in the classroom. A few colleagues have been good phone partners, who prove to me that I am not alone. Several have had or are recovering from the virus and/or the loss of people close to them. Some just feel isolated. I have to say that I had colleagues I admire immensely. Cherise Robinson, for instance, is finding her ‘best self’ by making healthy choices and delving into her artwork. Being able to give support is just as valuable as getting it. I must say that Linda Krystek and Kathleen Fredette are amazing members of the network who practically jump at the chance to provide resources, ideas, and support.”
— Kimberli Lengning, Kindergarten Community Facilitator, iLEAD Lancaster

“I appreciate my Care Team and grade-level partner for their support and unwavering effort. My days are better when we collaborate and brainstorm. Thank you, Mr. Gabriel and Ms. Bogna.”
— Trista Baham, 3rd Grade Facilitator, iLEAD Antelope Valley Hybrid

“Just being able to call or text them when I’m having a challenging moment. Even if we’re not physically together, we still really lean on each other for support, even if it’s just venting or looking for advice. It has been helpful to talk about life outside of work and check in on each other’s mental health. I also follow a lot of teacher Instagram accounts. Even though many I don’t know personally, it provides a sense of unity. We’re all experiencing these very unclear times together. It’s comforting as well as unifying and empowering.”
— Megan Tapia, K/1 Dual Immersion Facilitator, iLEAD Santa Clarita (SCVi)

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