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Coming Back Ewing Strong!

CounselorsOn the opening day of the school year, as Ewing High Principal Ed Chmiel welcomed back students in the hallways of the school, he smiled and shook his head with a sense of astonishment.“I have not seen some of these students in person since March of 2020,” Chmiel remarked. “Many of our current seniors were last in our building in March of their sophomore year. Our juniors have never had a normal school year in Ewing High School; it truly has been a remarkable time in educational history.”

“The impact of the pandemic on our students and schools should not be underestimated,” Assistant Superintendent Danita Ishibashi added. “We know that it has had a profound impact on our students, and we believe that our foremost concern is their physical, mental and emotional health as they all return to school following the unprecedented school year.”

Under the leadership of new Director of Counseling Services and Assessment, Dr. Jennifer Antoni, the Ewing Schools has implemented a systemic approach designed to ease the transition of students from the pandemic back to a traditional, or at least somewhat traditional, schooling environment.


NallyThis social-emotional learning (SEL) approach is fundamentally based on the following principles:

  • Creating a welcoming school learning environment.
  • Balancing, addressing the social emotional and academic needs of all returning students.
  • Building (gradually) student’s learning stamina.
  • Implementing a “gradual release” approach to administering assessments and assigning homework for the opening of school.

This approach has already been illustrated in a number of district initiatives as schools opened for the new school year. All schools offered Building Tours to students and their families in late August. Over 400 families participated in these events. In the elementary schools, daily Morning Meeting activities are conducted to promote a classroom community and develop social-emotional skills. At Fisher Middle School, daily Advisory Team Meetings in September have led to weekly social-emotional skills lessons. Over at Ewing High School, resiliency lessons were provided to staff to integrate into the first few weeks of school.

Taking the lead in these programs are the always vital school counselors in each school.

“The school counselors in each school are dedicated to their students,” Dr. Antoni stated. “We encourage all students and families to make a connection with these vitally important educational professionals.”

Bulletin BoardSo far, in each school, the district school counselors have introduced themselves to students during the opening week of school, already met with students who have been receiving regular support services over the past school year and provided SEL lessons to students.

At the elementary schools, supportive and motivational bulletin boards line the hallways. Fisher Middle School and Ewing High School have established a Student Success Cohort with an identified counselor for students who may be struggling academically and emotionally with the impact of the pandemic. Resources are shared in the schools and online with parents and families.

“The pandemic was certainly a game-changer,” Dr. Ishibashi added, “but with a caring community and dedicated professionals serving our students, we truly believe we have the tools to be ‘Ewing Strong – Moving Forward’.”