Helping Students Adjust to "The New Normal"

Published: Apr 27 2020

In the video Sarah Kirk submitted for the Oklahoma School Counselor of the Year last year – an honor she subsequently won -- she quoted a report stating that if students have just one person who loves and believes in them, their outcomes are far greater. “Well,” Sarah said, “I want to go beyond that. I want to be the one person who is absolutely crazy about them. I want them to know that this is more than a job for me, that they truly have my heart.” But how does Sarah do that when students can no longer come to Kendall-Whittier Elementary School in Tulsa, OK? That’s what NPR’s Morning Edition wanted to know for its April 20th story titled “Closed Schools are Creating More Trauma for Students.” And because Sarah is a 2019 Fund for Teachers Fellow, we were able to catch up with her to hear more and learn how all of us can help students experiencing trauma.

Sarah used her FFT grant to complete ChildLight Yoga and Mindfulness for Children Teacher Training in Dover, NH, to -- as the school counselor -- help young people develop body awareness, manage stress through breathing and access an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices. Sarah is a member of the American School Counselor Association Board of Directors, the Oklahoma School Counselor of the Year and a national finalist for School Counselor of the Year. The daughter of a teacher, Sarah earned undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Science, as well as her Masters degree in Counseling from Oklahoma State University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. She has a heart for creating and implementing programs and interventions that meet the needs of the whole child, and – for the past four weeks – meeting those needs has primarily revolved around determining if the 900 students at her school are safe and have enough food to eat.