Honoring Our Staff for Bridging and Buffering Kids in Times of Distress

Honoring Our Staff for Bridging and Buffering Kids in Times of Distress

By Habeebah Grimes, Chief Executive Officer, Positive Education Program

When we received the directive to close schools and shelter in place last year, we went to our homes imagining an extended spring break. We were given no time for planning or meaningful goodbyes. Our homes became our places of work as we reimagined how we would continue the work of helping children learn and grow.


As isolation grew and the time extended on, we quickly came to appreciate that kids and families would need a great deal of support in the midst of this pandemic. The young people we serve at Positive Education Program were counting on us in innumerable ways as the gaps in opportunity they face threatened to become massive, gaping chasms. As the distance from what we knew to be our normal grew, that extended spring break became one of the most challenging and heartbreaking set of working conditions we have known.


Yet as overwhelming as it has been for each of us, we know how much harder this has been for our kids and families. Through these moments, we have used our passion and skills, or what we like to call our superpowers, to be those essential buffers for our kids, cushioning them from the full harm of this this moment. We have wrapped our families in care, providing meals and winter coats when needed. We have taught remotely and stood on front porches to provide therapeutic support or to help kids acclimate to new technologies. Now, we are finally able to offer this support in classrooms and in person. We have provided all kinds of connection – from the human to the digital and everything in between.


Mister Rogers famously shared this story from his childhood, highlighting this guidance from his mom:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”


Gratefully, our kids and families did not need to look far to find their helpers. They were there in the form of people like our PEP teacher-counselors, the name we use for all our PEP staff members, all wonderful caring and competent adults who have committed themselves to bringing out the best in kids.


On behalf of our kids and families, thank you for being that buffer from harm and bridge to positive growth and change.