Diamond Bar – Unprecedented times are challenging educators to go to great lengths for their students amid the global health crisis.
Take Diamond Bar High School grade level coordinator (GLC) Dave Desmond, for example.
For the past eight weeks, he has been sending video messages to homebound students using social media.
From his living room, Desmond presents counseling strategies in easily digestible bites, capped off by performing a song on his acoustic guitar.
“We’re still in coronavirus time and unfortunately it looks like we will be here a longer,” he said on April 9.
The 27-year veteran educator has literally opened up his home for the virtual sessions directed to his sophomore class and he doesn’t seem to mind.
“This isn’t something I would have done in the past,” he shared.
“I normally keep my private life to myself, but these are strange times.”
His only fear was playing and singing in front of the world.
“I thought, man, if there’s some way that me providing a little entertainment for my students will distract them from the general sadness of this time for a bit, well, that would be cool,” he said.
“And hopefully they’re listening to the counseling as well!”
His colleagues are also reaching out with regular communications via videos, newsletters, and emails.
“The other GLCs and I really miss seeing the kids and having that daily connection with our students,” he added.
Desmond said the team relies on seeing kids face-to-face and “counseling via the phone, email, or zoom is kind of tough.”
“This is just another way to let them know we care about them and are thinking about them.”
Each week, Desmond clicks through a PowerPoint presentation featuring topics normally discussed during the school year.
Themes have ranged from goal setting and college applications to financial aid and preparing for SATs.
Knowing that students are facing increased anxiety due to COVID-19, Desmond admitted that he’s also struggling while living in quarantine on the May 10 broadcast.
“Just like you, I’ve been having a tough time and I think it’s good for all of us to find ways to relieve that stress.”
With that, he began demonstrating how he’s been keeping busy around the house, beginning in the kitchen with a pink frosted cake he baked for Mother’s Day.
Next, he dashed to the dining room for a hand of gin rummy, a game he’s currently playing with his daughter.
“Break up the day by playing a game with your family,” he offered the teens.
“Hey, I just won – that was fun!”
He suggested using DBHS online mindfulness resources including meditation, listening to waterfalls, drawing, music, and even a koala cam.
“Doesn’t he look relaxed? Aren’t you more relaxed just watching this guy?”
Then Desmond pivoted to a doorway to demonstrate a few pull-ups, sprinted to the backyard to hit golf balls, and pull a few weeds.
“Maybe you can help your parents clean up the house a bit,” he suggested to the high schoolers.
Desmond even shared a weekend project he’s been working on.
“See this patch of dirt – it will soon be transformed into a putting green!”
Being sheltered-in-place is the time to set small goals each day including academic, physical and social activities, and finding a way to help the family, Desmond suggested.
“Make dinner or write a letter to grandma and grandpa.”
“But, one of my favorite things to do to manage stress is playing a tune,” he said wrapping up the segment.
And with that, he picked up his guitar and belted out “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
Desmond coordinates his tunes with each video theme from a memorized playlist of about 50 songs, including “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies, “Midnight Special” by Credence Clearwater Revival, and “Help Me, Stranger” by Jack White of the Raconteurs.
“Hold on, Brahmas, we’re going to get through this!” he exclaimed with a fist pump to the camera.
His message during May’s Mental Health Awareness Month is for students to keep doing their best.
“Do your best to live your life with some sense of normality while staying safe, do your best to help your family and friends get through this odd, difficult time, and do your best to take care of yourself. There’s so much about this situation that is beyond our control, so focus on what you can control and be good to yourself and to everyone around you.”