This week, The Hechinger Report’s editor in chief Liz Willin published a column about the uptick in pandemic-related anxiety in middle schoolers and offered several paths forward for schools. Here at Pilot, we’ve been talking a lot about the mental health of our students, and a quick scan of the news will tell you that mental health struggles–and finding the appropriate support in the face of them–has reached crisis levels for kids and their parents.
Even for students who are not experiencing acute mental health issues, a lack of practice from a socially distant pandemic year is leaving many students without the requisite skills to navigate the social structures of the playground, the hallways, or the daily bus ride. When you add language-based learning differences or ADHD, both of which affect students’ abilities to fully and accurately assess and respond to social situations, the problem amplifies.
For the next issue of Proofs of Interest, which comes out next Tuesday, I sat down with Dr. Harris Finkelstein to talk about the ways in which learning differences can give rise to anxiety in children. There were too many insights to summarize here, but I cannot recommend enough that upcoming read. Additionally, as many of you have already been taking advantage of, we have our continuing Parent Series with Dr. Cami Winkelspecht, which is currently focused on Anxiety and Depression in children and teens. Our next session is ***** at 6:30 pm.
I also have exciting news to share with the community. Many of you have already benefited from the presence of Brandon Hamilton in our aftercare program, but on November 29, Mr. Hamilton will be joining the faculty full-time as a member of the counseling team, specifically serving as an Interventionist. Mr. Hamilton comes to us with great experience working with children, particularly in the areas of mindfulness, emotional regulation, and restorative justice. We are thrilled that he’ll be with us all day during the school year and are happy to be putting more resources toward the mental health of our students.
Finally, in mentioning the addition of Mr. Hamilton to our team, I want to share two other staffing updates. First, my assistant Stacy Fennimore is moving on to pursue a new opportunity outside of Pilot. As many of you have experienced firsthand, Stacy was a central figure in the Pilot community and we will miss her dearly. That said, I am always excited for the growth and ambition of my colleagues, and so I hope you’ll join me in wishing Stacy much luck on the next leg of her journey. Additionally, Lynne Keane, our Business Manager, has announced her retirement at the end of the calendar year. While she’ll be staying on for a little while longer, we welcome Valerie Hastings-Candeloro on December 1. Ms. Hastings-Candeloro will be filling Lynne’s role moving forward.
We will not be sending out a Pilot Post next week, given the week’s short schedule, so I want to make sure I take this opportunity to wish you all a warm and joyful Thanksgiving break. While I hope I show it daily, I must say I am most grateful for the Pilot Community.