Displaying items by tag: geyser road elementary school
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the school shutdowns because of COVID-19. It’s an opportunity to reflect, and a time to ask – how have you been carrying your trauma?
THE INVISIBLE BACKPACK
One of the lingering effects of COVID is the mental trauma it has caused.
Through this collective experience, we’ve all been carrying around thoughts and feelings that can be difficult to handle – and may seem invisible, but are, indeed, still there.
At Geyser Road elementary school, they are learning empathy and to envision everyone as if they were carrying around an invisible backpack filled with the weight of this year’s trauma.
Teachers have been witnessing the effects of this trauma in their classrooms and experiencing it themselves. Within a sea of changing schedules and technologies, they have been tasked with the responsibility of creating an environment where children feel safe, supported, and ready to learn.
“I’m so proud of them. It’s been hard, really hard work. It’s been difficult professionally and personally but they’ve let down walls, and shared personal experiences. This is typically not the conversation that you’d hear in school. They’ve been vulnerable and a lot of trust has been put out there,” said Geyser Road Principal Michele Whitley.
MAKING SPACE, GIVING GRACE
The school is part of a district-wide heart-centered approach to lighten the mental load of educators, their students, and families.
It’s about finding balance.
“Educators are incredibly giving of themselves, so it’s about making space and giving ourselves grace,” said Whitley.
Consultants specializing in Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) have guided the staff to new insights on the importance of compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance.
There’s music at faculty meetings, a premium put on making people smile, practicing mindfulness, and finding time for stillness.
The high school created a Virtual Calming Corner and an online Kindness Wall where uplifting messages are added so the staff can hear from each other about the wonderful things they do.
“It all boils down to kindness. A note or an email, that’s what we need right now. Showing appreciation and that we’re thinking of each other. These are small moments of joy and there is so much happiness that they can bring you. Reciprocation between teachers and families, that is joy.”
UNDERSTANDING THE FLIGHT-FIGHT-FREEZE IMPULSE
Confidently embracing uncertainty begins with being able to recognize it.
At Dorothy Nolan elementary school, they promote positive affirmations, mindfulness, and exercise to improve mental health.
They are also studying the specific strategies laid out in trauma expert Jennifer Bashant’s book, Building a Trauma-Informed Compassionate Classroom.
These techniques help educators identify the body’s natural reaction to threats (the flight-fight-freeze response) and understand how it shows up in children as daydreaming, defiance, or over-sillyness.
Last year, #518Rainbow went viral, brightening our world with a reminder of hope. This year, on March 22– April 1, Dorothy Nolan is hosting a week of rainbow-themed activities.
“These are uplifting activities that everyone can be involved in. They are some of the rituals that feel so good to the kids (and to the school as a whole). That good feeling trickles down into overall holistic well-being,” said school Social Worker Cindy Teplitzky.
To watch archived videos of the district’s online Parent University workshops for families, go to saratogaschools.org/parents. More information on mental health resources is available at www.mentalhealthednys.org.
Photo By Lindsay Wilson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Wednesday, June 19, 2019, Joseph Koren, 24 of Saratoga Springs was charged with felony Criminal Possession of a Weapon: Loaded Firearm; Criminal Possession Stolen Property; Tampering With Physical Evidence, and a misdemeanor on Resisting Arrest.
Officers from the Saratoga Springs Police Department (SSPD) responded to Hathorn Blvd, just about one and a half miles away from Geyser Road Elementary School. The police were notified around 8:30 a.m. that a man (later identified as Koren) was harassing a paving crew working on Hathorn Blvd.
At 8:45 a.m. the Saratoga Springs District Office was notified by the Saratoga Springs Police Department (SSPD) that there was suspicious activity occurring in the Geyser Crest Neighborhood.
“At that point, we only had faculty and staff in the building, so police recommended that we go into a lockdown so all of our faculty and staff took cover,” said superintendent Michael Patton.
Meanwhile, at the scene, the paving crew had directed the responding officer towards the back of a home on Hathorn Blvd. According to SSPD, Koren was observed to be pointing a weapon at two men in the backyard. The responding officer attempted to control the situation with verbal commands, which went ignored as Koren leaped over a fence.
“Once we get enough cops there, we start doing a search for him. We find the gentleman hiding in some bushes on Tiffany Place at a home there. He does not have the handgun on him at that point,” said Investigations Lieutenant Bob Jillson.
After a thorough search, the officers find the handgun matching their description under gardens near the spot where he was apprehended. The gun was later identified to be a stolen, and fully loaded .38 caliber revolver.
There was a strong police presence at the Geyser Road Elementary, where the school lockdown turned into a lockout once the school board was notified that the suspect was apprehended.
"The busses actually were rerouted to the transportation department which is a few miles away, so the students were safe, away from the building,” said Patton. “At 9:45 once the police department gave us the okay to clear the building, the students were routed back here to the school."
Faculty and staff were at the front of the school greeting the students when the buses arrived. At 10:16 a.m. the pledge of allegiance came across the loudspeaker, as the school continued with their day.
Koren is currently remanded to the Saratoga County Jail on $20,000 cash/ $40,000 bond.
Who: Dave Patterson.
Where: Congress Park.
What are you doing today?
Taking a group of fourth-graders from Geyser Road Elementary School on an outside tour of Congress Park. When my group is finished, we’re going to switch with Jamie Parillo – he’s the director of the Saratoga Springs History Museum – and he will take the students on an inside tour of the history museum. This is part of the fourth-grade program on local history.
Where are you from originally?
Originally from South Boston. I’ve been living in Saratoga for about 40 years now. I used to be president of the history museum, and I used to teach a course on local history at Saratoga high school.
How has Saratoga changed in the 40 years since you’ve been here?
It’s changed quite a bit. The buildings have been sprouting like flowers, but way back in the day, in the 1880s, there were buildings over there (on Broadway) that were taller than they are now. As a matter of fact, the largest hotel in the world used to be right across the street from this park: The Grand Union hotel. So as big as Saratoga is getting now with the buildings, it pales in comparison to what it was in the 1880s.
Student question: How long have the springs been in Congress Park?
One of the first springs discovered in Saratoga Springs is called Congress Spring – right over there. A man named Nicholas Gilman found water bubbling out of the ground and brought his friends to it. Because he used to be a member of the Continental Congress, they named it Congress Spring, and it was so important that this whole park used to be called Congress Spring Park.
Student question: How many springs are there?
We have 17 today. At one time, we had just over 200.
Student question: How is Saratoga with the pollution?
Saratoga’s been pretty lucky because we haven’t had a lot of industry that would create pollution. Probably the biggest polluter in Saratoga Springs would be the automobile. Of course, 100 years ago we had horses and carriages - and horses have their own kind of pollution, if you know what I mean, so you had to keep the streets clean.
Student question: Are any of these places here haunted?
The building right behind you. Did you ever see a show called “Ghost Hunters”? Well a few years ago they came in and said there were spirits right in the museum here.
Student Response: Awesome!!!