Just Checking In - My School Visit

I am a school social worker at TeleTeachers. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that it allows me to work in schools across the nation. For example, I work in Illinois and Florida every week, and sometimes in the same day! For me, it is the most exciting and fulfilling work. So when my team members presented the idea to do a school visit to get a first-hand account from our school partners, I thought this was perfect for my school Somerset Wellington. I have worked at Somerset since March, and I work 2 days a week with several students. I have learned that the students love to talk over the computer. They open up very easily to me virtually, and they teach me things too! They showed me how to use emojis on Zoom and put virtual makeup on. I was excited to pay an in-person visit to one of my schools that I previously only worked with virtually. 

TeleTeachers had a plan to meet the administration, staff, and students, while interviewing and recording our visit. I decided I would add an extra day to go in and teach the students some mindfulness techniques. It went so well! On the first day I taught Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. The second day, Emily Smith, the CEO of TeleTeachers, and Mariah Zahn, our videographer for the day, joined in on the fun. We spent all day with the students and staff, and we all left feeling warm-hearted and more connected to our mission of wanting to help all students in all capacities. The biggest surprise to me when going to Somerset was that the students recognized me! I wasn’t sure how the “virtual me” translated into the “in-person me”, but right away one student ran up to me and hugged me. I think that made my entire year. There was something so seamless about both days. Although I had a plan, there was none needed. The students and I rolled together as one through each training. 

Students love visitors. Some of the students knew me, but I was able to meet all of the students because I went into every classroom and presented to all grades. We talked about feelings and emotions and how to stay mindful. As a provider, it felt great to feel the connection with the students and staff. Being virtual is a wonderful thing for many reasons, but Covid has made connecting with the students difficult. This experience brought me back to the classroom and with the students. We were even able to eat lunch with the students! I was able to sit down with the principal and have a conversation, all the things I have not done in quite some time. 

TeleTeachers goes above and beyond for their school partners by listening to needs and accommodating them to the best of their abilities. We are now expanding our services to offer in-person therapy and special education instruction to reach as many students as possible. I hope to visit every school I work in virtually, because I think it is important to see where your students spend their day. It was a pleasure and an honor to be invited into all the classrooms. And the best part? I really felt the community of the staff throughout the school, and we were able to be part of that. It was the best day.

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Melissa Festa

Melissa Moss Festa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker from Chicago, IL with a focus on education and a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization industry as the founder of Kids Have Hope, a child abuse prevention program. She is published in 2 academic journals for working with children with ADHD and bipolar disorder. Melissa joined TeleTeachers in 2020 as a School Social Worker and a School Partnership Executive. Melissa currently lives in Florida with her husband Chris and 2 dogs George Clooney and Pebbles.