The Crusader Newspaper Group

Gary Schools addressing post-pandemic emotional effects among students and staff

The Gary Community School Corporation has implemented a new initiative which includes Social and Emotional Learning programs and events throughout the district. Initially geared towards addressing social issues stemming from pandemic isolation and virtual learning for students, the program has now become a focus for district employees including teachers and staff.

“Our scholars are not the only ones who may be mentally impacted by the pandemic,” said Dr. Paige McNulty, manager for the Gary Community School Corporation. “We have all experienced changes that require various levels of adjustment. We are committed to supporting our students and staff as we navigate the physical and mental challenges brought on by COVID-19.”

Over the course of the 2021-2022 school year, the district observed and addressed the effects of e-learning.

Disciplinary concerns were identified and surveys where sent to families capturing data about areas students struggled the most. Based on the results, the district forged ahead providing resources to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Family and Community Engagement (FACE) teams to share with families. GCSC also began partnering with local organizations that focus on mental health as an additional support mechanism.

Another effective measure included an increase in the number of counselors, therapists, and coaches in each building has to provide additional options for students in need of mental and emotional support.

Each school has different approaches to SEL, For example, some offer cozy corners, which are safe places for students to practice mindfulness through deep breathing and meditation. Workshops are also offered to teachers to encourage healthy communication and relationships.

The SEL Department has also partnered with Human Resources to address any feedback and concerns teachers and staff may have from being overwhelmed and/or burned out from the pandemic.

“The ultimate goal is to find a new balance that allows teachers and staff to not only maintain, but to thrive,” added McNulty. “Social and Emotional Learning is an integral part of education and human development. The ability to manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others and to develop healthy identities are just a few of the goals of SEL.”

Upcoming workshops for staff include Pathways to Peace (relaxation class), mindfulness meditation, and workshops on topics such as how to manage uncomfortable feelings/stress/anxiety in a healthy way.

Parents are also encouraged to be a part of the SEL experience,so that the key behaviors and exercises can be implemented in the home.

For more information on the upcoming events, visit

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