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Throughout the Pandemic, Seeds of Health Has Had a Plan… The SOH Staff and Community Are Appreciative

Throughout the Pandemic, Seeds of Health Has Had a Plan…

The SOH Staff and Community Are Appreciative

It’s hard to imagine that COVID has been part of our vocabulary for almost two full years, and even harder to remember the time before it entered our lives.  When it hit the world in early March of 2020, it took almost everyone by surprise, especially schools.   But not Seeds of Health - SOH had a plan, and was ready to take action the day everything shut down. While other schools scrambled to put makeshift learning plans in place, SOH had a plan. SOH had Chromebooks for every student, hotspots for those students without internet at home, and was ready to switch to virtual learning. At the very beginning of the pandemic, SOH  helped their teachers, students, and families adjust to the new virtual world. 

Even with a plan in place, there’s no denying that the pandemic has been tough for everyone. There have been many starts and stops, and the SOH community has had to pivot many times since 2020.  Yet,  with each new phase, SOH continues to swiftly address problems as they arise, and the teachers and staff have become experts at changing plans on the drop of a dime. No one can deny that the entire world has been on edge, wondering what’s next, and when the end is in sight. 

However, through it all,  there are two things that have been constant. First,  SOH has pledged to do whatever it takes to ensure their community is safe and that children continue learning.  Second, the teachers and staff have ridden the many waves and persevered, always with their students at the forefront of their minds. 

The result? Even in the midst of much uncertainty in the world, there’s a sense of security at SOH, and a general appreciation for this security in the SOH community. The staff, students, and families truly feel they are being looked out for. This feeling goes a long way when faced with the uncertainty of a pandemic.

Members of the SOH staff were happy to share their thoughts on how it felt to be part of a system dedicated to working together to get through the pandemic: 

I have to recognize how absolutely amazing our teachers have been throughout this entire pandemic. As administration, we have to make decisions about what to do and how to do it, but the teachers are the ones actually implementing those changes. They adjust when asked to adjust. They agree and implement when asked to do something we feel better helps our students. And they do it all while still, at their core, pushing to teach students content, to influence and inspire, to connect, and to make a difference in the lives of their students. That is admirable and deserves recognition.


  • Brenda Jeske Schmidt, Tenor High School Cathedral Square Campus, Principal

I am so proud of the teaching staff at Tenor and the way they will jump into any situation to do what is best for students.  Supporting students with their mental health, supporting students to understand procedures, and supporting students through the various learning methods.  The staff just do what they need in order to make successful students.  The staff at Tenor High School are special people who give 110% on a daily basis for students.  This has alway been true, but due to the pandemic this has become more apparent.


  • Theresa Yurk, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Principal 

All staff members/co-workers have stepped into roles other than their regular position to keep the day running smoothly. Teachers are teaching hybrid way more than we imagined they would have to at this point. They are continuously working together to find ways to be creative and engage students that are both online and in the classroom. Individuals are highly flexible when it comes to covering for each other to ensure the building can function on a day to day basis.


  •  Danielle Bailey, Tenor High School Cathedral Square Campus, Associate Principal 


Staff is constantly adjusting their instruction to meet the needs of all students. This means they are always preparing for in person instruction, virtual instruction, and hybrid instruction. This is not easy and takes lots of preparation. In addition, they have had to become more familiar with technology for these various types of instruction. Many staff have also decided to teach some after school clubs to help bring students back up to their academic level.

In addition, staff has had to bring trauma sensitive teaching practices into the classroom because of the effect the pandemic had on students. Teachers are now teaching daily Social emotional learning to the students.


  •  Jim Kotsonis, Seeds of Health Elementary, Principal

Teachers have become pros at adapting their curriculum to fit the needs of students both in-person and online, and administrators have gone above and beyond working behind the scenes to implement COVID protocols to ensure the safety of everyone in the building.  

  • Annelise Mankowski, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus,  Science Teacher

We have adapted our dual enrollment senior year at MATC program to the ebbs & flows of COVID-19 and supported our students through virtual learning, hybrid classes and “hands on” learning in their college classrooms. Our Senior Seminar program has used all of these instructional modalities, as well. Tenor has provided the technology required for our students to be successful in MATC courses including 100% virtual classes. Our #1 priority has been supporting our students virtually or in person. We have called, met virtually & in person, texted and even gone to students' homes. We have not been able to take it for granted that students will be here every day. We have needed to consistently reach out to support them.

  • Carol Pook, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus,  School Counselor

Seeds of Health has regularly shown the courage to try different models during the pandemic in a concerted effort to figure out what works best for staff and students. Switching to a block schedule last year really helped students manage their workloads and reduce the prep time for teachers. Also, our Human Resource department has shown the care and compassion that you would hope to expect from people in these positions during a pandemic. It has not been easy to teach during this time, but I could not be more proud to be part of a staff that I know puts their students first. 

  • Alex Funk, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus,  Social Studies Teacher

Teachers have had to deal with constant change. One of the most important aspects of education is consistency, and COVID has thrown that off for nearly three school years now. We have had to constantly adapt to different schedules, learning models, and protocols.


  • Nick Olson, Tenor High School Social Studies Teacher

The whole educational system has been put under extra pressure during the pandemic.  Tenor has put forth a lot of effort in keeping our teachers and students safe.  We provide and require that teachers and students wear masks while in the building.  We have also structured our building, schedule, and rooms in a way that lets us social distance better.  We use sanitary wipes to wipe down student desks/tables each period and most importantly we have a service that comes in twice a week to test teachers and students.  We understand that COVID has taken an emotional toll on our teachers and students as well.  The staff has undergone training to address this (SEL – Social Emotional Learning). This training is not only for the students but for us as well. Tenor is aware of the extra demands teachers have while teaching virtually and in-person and have been given extra time to take care of this.  Tenor has also done smaller things like giving us a “Mental Health” day off and it is overall clear that our leaders and administrators care about us on a personal level.

  • Dan Strelnick, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Instructional Support

The teaching staff at Tenor High School has prepared virtual lessons for students who need to learn from home. These lessons have been conducted simultaneously with the lessons presented to students in the classroom. This has made it easy for all students to keep up with the daily lessons, and not fall behind.

  • Fay Hantsche, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Instructional Support

The Tenor High School staff has collaborated in such an effective way in order to give each student a good education. This pandemic has caused the education system to really lean on the flexibility of teachers to which the staff of Tenor has become masters at, though many of us crave a return to normalcy. We have had to rewrite, and modify curriculum to meet our students' needs. The ever changing system presents an unprecedented challenge that we continue to tackle but the staff have found a way to keep school open and keep students engaged in their school work. 

  • Josh Borts, Tenor High School  Journal Square Campus, Science Teacher

The Tenor Staff has put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure that students are still able to learn during the COVID period. Ever since the beginning of the COVID era we have been able to provide instruction to our students in some form or another. I think that we continue to adapt to the ever changing situation in a way that we believe benefits our students’ education the best. 

  • Zach Longo, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Math Teacher

Again, the efforts by the administrators and faculty are impressive. Curriculum modifications are the norm when necessary. There is a deep understanding of the psychological effects of the pandemic and the emotional toll it has taken, both for students and teachers. In the face of this tremendous challenge, faculty have retained a sense of humor and a collaborative approach. The wisdom on the part of Theresa Yurk in advocating for a modified hybrid approach has been greatly appreciated

  • Mary Flynn, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, English Teacher 

Through every stage of the pandemic - from the very beginning to our current situation battling the Omicron variant, health and safety for all have been top priorities. This care and concern hasn’t gone unnoticed. 


The staff of SOH appreciates all that has been done to keep everyone safe:


For over 20 years I have been proud to state that I work for Seeds of Health because of the commitment to students and staff.  This has become even more prevalent during the pandemic and the ways in which SOH continue to stay abreast of the ever changing needs.  SOH focuses on the safety of all through heightened cleaning procedures, making upgrades to facilities and understanding that this is hard for everyone so mental health and well being is at the forefront of all decisions.  Ranging from on site mental health support of students to providing “mental health” days for staff.  I continue to stay  a proud employee of Seeds of Health.

  • Theresa Yurk, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus,  Principal


SOH has stayed committed to the safety of students, staff, and families, by implementing strong protocols, providing on-site testing, increasing access to mental health services through St. A's, and making decisions that put education and mental health first. The pandemic has made us all come together even more as a team and continuously problem solve and make decisions to best meet everyone's needs. Communication has been key to ensuring that staff, students, and families voices are being heard as we navigate these quickly changing times.


  • Danielle Bailey, Tenor High School Cathedral  Campus, Associate Principal


SOH has taken great measures to ensure the health and safety of all staff and students. They have done this by bringing in an outside agency(NOVIR) to come and test all staff once or twice a week. In addition, they have offered testing to any students once or test a week. This has allowed us to limit the spread of COVID among our students and staff. It also has allowed us to remain in person learning which maximizes the learning potential of our students. In addition, we have offered clinics at our school for staff, students, and families to come in ang get vaccinated. 


  •  Jim Kotsonis, Seeds of Health Elementary, Principal


SOH has demonstrated the well-being of the entire staff, students, and families has been the top priority during the various phases of the pandemic. We’re grateful for onsite COVID shots, boosters, and weekly testing and the fact that WIC has been able to provide uninterrupted WIC services since March 2020! We have numerous practices to keep WIC staff and families safe during the pandemic:  physical presence not required for families to receive services, services are provided over the phone, staff are allowed to work remotely, and curbside services are available for eWIC cards, breast pumps, Farmers' Market Nutrition Program vouchers.


  • Ann White, Women Infants Children (WIC),  Director

I appreciate the availability of COVID testing on campus every week. During winter break my daughter was exposed to a coworker who was diagnosed with COVID. We went for the rapid tests several times during the following week. We had to wait in line and although some tests were free, the rapid tests were expensive. It is reassuring to be able to be tested regularly without waiting in long lines and paying for each test.


  • Carol Pook, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, School Counselor


SOH offers COVID testing twice a week to staff and students. SOH went completely virtual only when there was no better option available. 


  • Lori Salinsky, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, English Teacher


Mask policies, mandatory vaccines and boosters, mandatory testing, shutting down the buildings when there are a large number of classes, and hybrid cases. 


  • Todd Smith, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, PLTW Engineering/Computer Science Teacher

Seeds of Health has prioritized the well-being of staff and students by emphasizing social-emotional learning within classrooms and offering families flexibility with in-person and virtual instruction, including providing students with the technology they need to succeed. 

  • Annelise Mankowski, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Science Teacher

Tenor High School has always made the health and safety of our students (and staff) a priority. This pandemic is no exception. We have worked diligently to not only take mitigation steps inside the building, we have also altered how we teach and learn so that education is accessible to all of our students. This has included, at various times, distance learning, hybrid learning and "normal", in the classroom, learning. We have given families choice and listened to what they believe works best for them. 

  • Jonathan Dorman, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Associate Principal

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I think Seeds of Health has been able to adapt very quickly to an ever-changing world. As an agency, SOH has been willing to be flexible and experimental in trying to figure out what works best for staff and students during a rather unprecedented time. Switching to a four day on and one day asynchronous model, SOH has helped my mental health greatly. Also, offering testing twice a week has given me peace of mind.

  • Alex Funk, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Social Studies Teacher 

Moving to a four day hybrid model shows that not only is Seeds of Health willing to help their student’s mental health, but also their staff. We have been able to remain safe in the building while having prep time to engage students both virtually and in person. COVID has been just as much a mental health crisis as it is a healthcare issue, and the leadership at Seeds of Health understands that. 

  • Nick Olson, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Social Studies Teacher


Seeds of Health has, since the very beginning of the pandemic, prioritized the health and safety of it’s staff and students. When we first recognized the severity of the health crisis we closed and transitioned to virtual instruction. To this day, staff and administration at Seeds are ready to switch to virtual instruction if needed. Throughout the pandemic Seeds of Health has continued to support our students as much as possible by extending deadlines, providing modified work, and adding a focus on SEL.

  • Fernando Muniz, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, Math Teacher

The efforts that have been made by Seeds of Health are truly impressive. As a new faculty member(long term sub until June), I was interested in what protocols were being followed: not only are masks required, but testing twice a week is mandatory for staff and available and encouraged for students. Students who have COVID or have been exposed are required to stream the class until it is safe for them to return. What has really impressed me is that the students are compliant with the mask requirement with little to no prompting. Academic accommodations are made; students have responded well to this.

  • Mary Flynn, Tenor High School Journal Square Campus, English Teacher 

This kind of care and attention is why SOH staff and teachers are loyal and appreciative of the SOH organization and why families trust SOH and children feel so at home in our schools..  While the COVID situation continues to affect the world, we can rest assured, knowing that SOH will make sure education continues.  Finally, every member of the SOH staff would like to also recognize the support and perseverance of families and students during this time. The pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, but with the spirit of the SOH family in mind, everyone has done a great job!