Making transitions from teaching in the classroom to distance learning takes a lot of care, and love. Moving from her weekly lunchtime heart-to-hearts with middle school girls to video chats and from regular proximity to her students to a creative collection of social distancing measures that maintain bonds with her pupils, Caitlin Keener, MSW, LSW, has pulled out all the stops for youngsters at Summit Academy – Toledo. The behavior specialist and performance coach humbly shares the credit with her colleagues.

“Our staff has really come together and is doing a really good job reaching out to students and being there as much as we can through this weird time,” Keener says.

For Summit Academy – Toledo students and families, that outreach has made all the difference.

“They are definitely family. You can tell that every single person has a vested interest in how my kids do and how they feel,” says Trisha Long, whose daughters, sixth-grader Amber and kindergartener Vanessa, attend Summit Academy – Toledo.

Among her outreach efforts to support students emotionally,  Keener has guided her pupils through breathing exercises to help them temper their anxieties. She also led a lesson on identifying worry and walked her students along steps to help them cope through it. She delivered the exercises in real-time on her public Facebook page and made them available to her students, along with a string of other lessons, at a moment’s need at the click of a key.

“I thought is was really important to continue supporting our students emotionally as most of them really find it difficult to deal with abrupt schedule changes,” Keener explains. “I am hoping to provide a sense of calm to them by continuing their social emotional learning, even it is remotely.”

It’s all good, according to Long.

“She’s [attending to] the kids’ mental health by keeping that same person they always count on at school still very present,” Long says.

Other student outreach from Summit Academy – Toledo educators and administrators have ranged from personalized “miss you” notes from Principal Dawn Heck on students’ work packets – distributed on Mondays with lunches – to videotaped story times and musical jingles by administrative assistant Wendy Hall.