“Adopt-A-Senior”: Teachers supporting students

The+motivational+poster+was+created+by+art+student+Shelly+Chang.

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The motivational poster was created by art student Shelly Chang.

With school being online, graduation being postponed and the uncertainty of the future, teachers and staff have rallied around seniors in an attempt to make their unconventional end of senior year as positive as can be.

Mrs. Monique Porter, assistant principal, designed an initiative called “Adopt-A-Senior” in which staff members sign up and are randomly assigned five seniors to take under their wing in the coming weeks.

“I honestly got the idea from a group that I am in on social media.Teachers and staff had an opportunity to sign up for the program. Those who signed up received a list of up to 5 seniors. Teachers and staff reached out to the seniors to check on them, encourage and motivate them and to let them know their [Homestead] family is here for them during these unprecedented times,” Porter said.

Over 60 teachers or staff have signed up to take part. Each has taken on their own, personal way of reaching out to students. “I send them notes each week in the mail because snail mail is better to get. Last week I also sent gift cards,” Ms. Amelia Figg-Franzoi, theater director, said.

“I felt it was best to reach out to each senior with a personal email message. In the message I stated a congratulations message for the impending graduation and for persevering through such a tough situation – especially for a senior. I also tried to frame the pandemic as a big challenge, like a few that we have faced over the past many years at Homestead,” Mr. Dan Benson, physical education teacher, said.

Seniors who have received messages, mail, or other forms of communication are excited and grateful. Braylin Smith and Jackson Rusch are two seniors who have Mr. Benson as their “adopter.”

“It was very heartwarming to receive the email. I didn’t know him that well as a teacher, but him being able to connect with me on an athletic level and also for my future and my accomplishments at Homestead was something I needed to hear through this hard time,” Smith said.

“It was really touching to get a message from Mr. Benson. I have known him for a long time, and we have a very good relationship through sports, especially track and field. Despite these difficult times, reading his message made my day,” Rusch said.

As students are nearing the end of school, teachers are continuing to support them in various ways.

“Thank you to all of the teachers and staff who participated in this program. I wanted to find a way to make sure our seniors felt uplifted and supported during this time, and you all have helped me to accomplish just that. I appreciate you all more than you will ever know!

To the senior class of 2020, please remember to stay positive and encouraged. Also, I want you all to know your [Homestead] family is working hard to do everything we can to help make this milestone one to remember. We are in this together! Seniors stand strong!” Porter said.

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