Under Pandemic Stressors, NYC Special Ed Teams Vow To 'Put The Children First' Emma Pelosi and Debra Fisher, who work with children with special needs at separate New York public schools, find support from each other through the challenges of getting kids back to school.
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Under Pandemic Stressors, NYC Special Ed Teams Vow To 'Put The Children First'

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Under Pandemic Stressors, NYC Special Ed Teams Vow To 'Put The Children First'

Under Pandemic Stressors, NYC Special Ed Teams Vow To 'Put The Children First'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/911438002/916807354" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NOEL KING, HOST:

On StoryCorps this week, two teachers talk about the difficulty of getting more than a million kids back into New York City public schools safely. Last-minute schedule changes have left parents, teachers and students frustrated and very confused. Emma Pelosi and her friend Debbie Fisher work with kids who have special needs, and they talked over StoryCorps Connect.

DEBBIE FISHER: Took me six years to get the degree. And I always thought, there is a kid waiting for me somewhere. As I'm studying now, most likely that kid is alive. And it was the first day of school and I met my first kid. Then, I saw the mom and I said, do you know that I've been thinking about your son since the very first day I went to school? And it was a very emotional moment for me because in my mind's eye I knew there was that kid waiting.

EMMA PELOSI: One thing I know - it does seem 10 times the work in special education, but it also is a thousand times the gratification.

FISHER: Absolutely - although this week, it was almost like we were canoeing through molasses. That's how it felt.

PELOSI: Yeah, and one of my greatest fears is going into a classroom, and passing something along to a child, and then having something happen to their family, or something happen to my staff. And I know that you can't prove that it was me, if someone gets sick in my care. But I also don't know if I could sleep at night - all the same - because I can't prove that it's not.

FISHER: You know, you're a human being. We both are. But you know what, Emma? We'll show them that we can get it done. There will be moments where it will be hard. But parents are going to see your ability to reach through that screen and make their kids feel comfortable, because that's what you do.

PELOSI: I know it's going to be really hard, but my hope is that my kids feel loved - whatever that takes.

FISHER: You know, they always say the children comes first. I hear it all the time - children...

PELOSI: Yeah.

FISHER: ...Come first, the children come first. We are going to put real muscle behind that statement. So you watch us put those children first. Teachers, and therapists, and all the support people in schools - we are that army. We will get it done. Remember us because we...

PELOSI: Yes.

FISHER: ...We really will - we promise, we promise.

KING: That was Debbie Fisher and Emma Pelosi. They work with special education students in New York City public schools, and their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.

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