ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — With North Carolina schools shut down through the end of the school year, teachers are looking for innovative ways to stay connected with their students. One local school is focusing on the importance of the student’s mental health.
"When I ask them what they miss most or when I ask them what they are most looking forward to, they just want to see their friends again," said Annie Mast, a counselor at Evergreen Community Charter School in Asheville.
It’s a confusing time for students who have now been out of the classroom and away from their classmates and teachers for weeks.
"They are dependent on some way of plugging in to connect with their friends in ways they need for their mental health and their emotional health," said Kriya Lendzion, another counselor at the school.
Evergreen Community Charter School is doing what it can to help by keeping everyone connected virtually.
"Class meetings or it’s advisory group meetings or a Friday dance party or art hour or fix-it hour," Lendzion said.
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As teachers continue with the academics, there’s now a new challenge brought on by distance.
"The academics isn’t what needs to take priority right now," Lendzion said. "Just getting them through it all OK - to some extent -- and with those relationships in tact and with school connectedness in tact."
The school has quickly launched virtual resources for students to encourage them, but the teachers are also stepping in
"The teachers are saying, 'OK, everybody go one at a time and just say something that you are doing right now to cope with this, what is one thing that you are grateful for,'" Lendzion said.
There are even resources for the younger kids and parents to help out.
"If it’s just a 'flip-your-lid' kind of day, and math is out the window, what can we put? What can we equip parents with that they can put in place of that math that is still going to help that child feel supported?" Mast said.
These educators hope there is a bigger lesson to be learned in all of this.
"The more we can offer parents, as well as children, the more we can make meaning out of this experience," Mast said.