On this episode, Superintendent Sanchez, talks about the ups and downs on the road to reopening schools this year. We get to know him better as he discussing his family and his journey from teacher to administrator. He even talks about his own self-care habits and offers suggestions for parents and student to manage during these stressful times.
Raymond Sanchez serves as the superintendent for the Ossining Union Free School District. As an administrator in the Ossining School District, he demonstrates a commitment to serve all the students of the district on a daily basis.
Along with the Board of Education, faculty, staff, and the Ossining community at large, Sanchez focuses on “raising the bar” and enhancing success for all students.
Sanchez served as the past president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Personnel Administrators, the former president of the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Curriculum Council, and as a past liaison for the New York State Association of Bilingual Educators. Sanchez has presented at various state and national conferences. He is on the advisory board of the Future School Leadership Academy (FSLA), the Teaching American History program, and Teatown Nature Preservation. He also shares his expertise as an adjunct professor at Mercy College, Manhattanville College, and Bank Street College of Education.
Sanchez is also a past recipient of the Raymond Delaney Award from the New York State Association of School Superintendents.
Thanks so much for joining me today for A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice. If you connected with what you heard here, and you want to work with me, go to my website, rebekahshackney.com and send a message through my contact page. And if you have enjoyed what you’ve heard here, please subscribe, rate and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Rebekah Shackney (00:00):
Hi, I'm Rebekah Shackney. Across the country, the back to school season is upon us, but due to the Corona crisis, this is unlike any other year. Everyone is worrying about balancing educational needs and mental health with physical safety. As a psychotherapist, I'm spending my days helping parents and students manage the stress as they face the upcoming school year. As the mother of three, I'm worried just like everyone else. This is a therapist takes her own advice. Today. I have the pleasure of speaking to dr. Ray Sanchez, superintendent of the Ossining union free school district, like educators around the country, he and other administrators, teachers, and staff have been working tirelessly to create back to school plans that meet the diverse needs of families everywhere. Dr. Sanchez took time out during this extremely busy time to talk to me. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this, Dr. Ray Sanchez.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (01:15):
I'm excited to be here and thank you for the invitation
Rebekah Shackney (01:17):
My pleasure. So how are you doing?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (01:20):
Oh, we're good. I mean, clearly I think, there's a lot going on, you know, in one's personal life with, you know, three children and, you know, managing their lives. And then on top of that, obviously as superintendent here in Ossining and trying to reopen a school district, uh, in our pandemic and really considering academics and safety, there's a lot going on. But there's a lot of great supportive community members, staff members, and obviously I have a great support at home as well with my wife.
Rebekah Shackney (01:52):
Excellent. Excellent. So tell me about yourself.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (01:55):
Yeah. I was born and raised here locally in Tarrytown. I'm first generation, both my parents came from Cuba and at that time, a lot of Cuban immigrants came to Tarrytown. And so I was born and raised, in that area. So I've really kind of never left. And now, I have three children. I have my daughter, who's 23, she's in Philadelphia right now, and happily employed and graduated from Delaware. And then I have two very young children, although they, you know, they get older every day. So I have a five year old and a seven year old. So it's, Madison my youngest. Hunter is my son. And then Morgan is my oldest. Beyond that, you know, I have a lot of family in the area and we stay in touch. I'm very connected to my family, although we've kind of spread out in different places. That's, you know, we stay, we remain connected, um, and a lot of really great friends in the region as well.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (02:49):
Wonderful, wonderful. So I saw this wonderful photo you posted of your mother on the anniversary of their arrival from Cuba. Can you tell me how your mother's sacrifice and your grandparent's sacrifice influenced you?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (03:05):
Yeah. And, I know we're on a podcast, so I'll try not to tear up. My parents chose to make the journey to the states and they made their own individual sacrifices in doing so and left a lot of family behind. But, they were always, you know, from the minute they came to the United States, they were hardworking. We did everything. I mean, we, we worked part-time jobs, we cleaned offices, we, whatever it did. Um, but we never lost the sense of family and that's remained with me. And, you know, we always ate at grandma's house on Saturday, and came together as a group of family. But I, you know, the other part, is that I came from poverty, you know, we, we would, uh, you know, I would go with my grandma to get whatever food we can get.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (03:53):
And, um, you know, we remember grabbing the government cheese at the time that was, uh, you know, for lack of a better word, the popular item. And I always remember that my grandfather always told me if you, if you make a dollar, spend 99 cents, so you always save a penny so that those type of messages stay with me for a long period of time. So I think there's, you know, there's a sense that my family always taught me to be humble and reminded me of that. Um, the sense of family is really, really important and ingrained in me. Um, and this deep desire to address issues of equity have always been there. Um, because I, you know, I only have my own personal story is that, um, I realized and, um, you know, just like they wanted from me, I want for every child, I want the best for them.
Rebekah Shackney (04:35):
Absolutely. That's incredible. So tell me about your career trajectory.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (04:42):
Yeah. Um, you know, I always think when I look at my career, you know, opportunities present themselves and you never know when they're going to present themselves. Um, and sometimes you gotta grab the opportunity, even though you might think you might not be fully, fully ready. So I started as a teacher, I was a, I actually taught in the Arlington school district. I lived in Tarrytown and traveled an hour down to, you know, North, I should say, uh, to the Arlington school district. And I taught first and second grade. It was just some really great years. And then eventually I applied and got a job here in Ossining. And quite honestly, I was living in Ossining. I had a condo in Ossining. And, um, you know, I've told this story. I actually did not know. I live right across Riverview condos right across from Claremont school.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (05:27):
But, um, you know, I left so early and arrived so late that I never really knew it was a school. And, um, the night before I was driving around looking, cause I had an interview at that school and I was driving, I found all the schools, but Claremont, well, everyone kept telling me it's by the cable station, by the cable station. I'm like, I live by the cable station. Um, uh, long story short. I eventually found it. We since then have a sign outside the school that says it's Claremont school. So, um, and then I came here as a fourth grade teacher and the, after a few years said, you know, do you want to become an administrator? And they, you know, uh, the Teacher's College along with, uh, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES created this administrative program, but you have to be recommended by our superintendent.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (06:09):
Um, so Dr. Raleigh at the time recommended me and I became a director of Enlo and, uh, became assistant principal of park. I left a year to become a principal in Peekskill, and then he invited me back to become assistant superintendent for elementary education and human resources. And then I applied for the superintendency and I've been superintendent for seven years now, um, since, uh, so that's really been my, you know, my, my path, but some of those, I would say, I didn't necessarily go out, looking for the opportunity was presented to in front of me. And it was just too good to be true to, uh, or to not take hold of it. And, uh, I feel very fortunate that I've had those opportunities and still remain fortunate that, you know, I'm superintendent here in Ossining
Rebekah Shackney (06:54):
Well, we're really fortunate to have you. We actually, we actually came to Ossining. Um, I think the year you became a superintendent of the year after. Okay. Um, no, but we also got to hear from a different side. We were neighbors with the Schneckers. So we heard about the process of hiring you. So that was when we were very excited to have such an amazing superintendent.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (07:21):
Thank you. I appreciate it.
Rebekah SHackney (07:23):
So what do you miss about teaching?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (07:24):
You know the kids. Um, you know, there's a, and I still remember, and probably the easiest way to me to describe it as like, when I was a first grade teacher, I was really teaching kids how to read. And when that light bulb goes off, when you teaching a concept and it goes off, it's just it's glory, right. And just really, you know, you're really making a difference and the relationships that you get the form with your class. And so even on a different level, even though I try to engage and try to get into classrooms as much as I can to get to know children and for them to know who I am as a person, not necessarily by title, you know, I teach some college courses and universities and personally it's because I like to teach and I enjoy it.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (08:01):
And I, I see it, you know, maybe on, from an adult education perspective, but, um, you know, that click and knowing that you're making a difference, um, and individual life and the best part is when those stories and those students come back to you and they can share with you some of the impacts that they, that you had on them. Um, it's just rewarding. That's all that. So, you know, that personal, you know, um, touch with the students and teaching them concepts and letting that light bulb go off to me is just, there is nothing better.
Rebekah Shackney (08:31):
That's amazing. It's funny. We have a rising first grader and he has just had that light bulb go off. And he and I were reading a book yesterday and he kept saying, Oh, I want to show Ms. Brady I can do this. And it was so heartwarming. I have to email her, but he kept saying it over and over again. I have to tell Ms. Brady, I have to tell Ms. Brady. So, you know, the don't just stick in your minds. You stick in the kid's minds so much. It's really incredible. So as a parent, how are you doing with all of this?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (09:06):
I think, you know, I, I talked to a lot of parents here in Ossining and they tell me their stories and I, you know, I, I, I, I can empathize. I mean, I really know from a, from a, as, as a parent, um, the challenges of work in this case and being there for your child. Um, and so there's, there's that, you know, the, the learning part that we've gone through and obviously learning never stops, but, you know, the, the formal part of education that we've paused on for summer, so that parts, you know, was, was a challenge. But the other is, you know, now it's just, you know, you want to just make sure that, to the extent that you can, that you create some normalcy for your child, right. That, um, you know, I've been really trying to my wife and I have been really dedicated to trying to get our kids outside and off screens and, and engaging in, in a, in an obviously in a safe way with, with others, um, so that they can feel like kids. And, um, and so we've, there's that aspect of that. Um, we just recently came from Vermont. Um, my brother has a little place up there and it was just nice to see, you know, try to, you know, go down the streams and try to catch crawfish and all, you know, and I'm like, just sitting there saying, this is, this is what I want for my kid. So, you know, we're just trying to find a balance of creating some, uh, letting them be kids, you know, in this really challenging time for adults and children.
Rebekah Shackney (10:28):
It really is. Yeah, it really is. So are you happy with the options that your kids have this year for education?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (10:37):
Yeah, I'm still studying it, so we're not just yet sure. Um, what, what, you know, what the results are be. I know everyone's working hard across the regions, all the school districts and everyone else, and everyone's got really great intentions, but you know what it means for your schedules, what it means for, you know, the balance and that's, that's stuff that we're still kind of hashing out as a family and what it really, you know, before we can really formally say this is great or not. And I think the best thing we can do is obviously when school is in, kids are fully into school and we realize that, you know, this isn't replacing it, but we're all working hard to make sure that, you know, we can keep kids steady learning and, uh, and socially and emotionally we want to protect them and, and care for them as well.
Rebekah Shackney (11:21):
Yeah. I mean, I think what you're going through is exactly what everyone else is going through right now. Um, so let's talk about Ossining a little bit, um, uh, walk us through the process of how you formulated the plan briefly.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (11:38):
So we, uh, we've been talking and meeting, um, and meeting and meeting, um, since basically April and just know that a lot of that discussion was done without like real formal guidance until this past July when the governor finally gave out what he would put out as quote unquote recommendations, and the state education department did the same, not too far removed. Um, but we started studying a lot of what was happening in other States, assuming that they weren't gonna, you know, when you looked at them, they weren't so different in some of the recommendations. And then in turn, you know, we've had, uh, various stakeholders from our facilities director, our transportation director, um, our nurse coordinator, all really looking at various aspects of the work. And then, you know, we finally got the guidance to what it is, and we knew, you know, these are the sort of the options that we would have had i.e. the hybrid verses trying to move more to five days of instruction where we could.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (12:40):
Um, and then more recently, you know, um, we've responded to family needs and we've provided a remote option. And I think throughout this, I think what's really important to, as a sort of overarching context is that, you know, we're trying to create responsive plans, plans that are responsive to needs of students that they're responsive to family, uh, feedback that we would say, and staff responsive to what might happen. You know, we still don't know right from day to day. And, uh, and also responding to, you know, obviously what the kids are telling us in terms of their needs and from a learning perspective. So we're still working through we're studying facilities, you know, with coming out with, you know, one option. It may provide other opportunities for those that are choosing to come in, um, for live instruction. And those are the things we're studying right now.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (13:28):
I can't necessarily speak to specifics, but, and, you know, meeting with stakeholders, every meeting we have with a family, with a student, with a staff member, you know, and they ask us questions and it either confirms our thinking, or it just adds a little layer that maybe we can elevate the plan a little bit further. Um, i.e. Like parents, I think it was yesterday during a Facebook live session, they shared, uh, it would be helpful for us to know if we don't know the teachers, at least what dates, which stays in the hybrid, if we are going to go in the hybrid you know, that so that we can begin planning from, uh, as a parent. Um, and I asked him, I said, would that be helpful? And a lot of them said, yes, that would be helpful. So, you know, we're going back and seeing if we can do that. Um, and so you might get one layer of information. And then the next one, you know, with the specific instructor might come later, but the point is that we're trying to build responsive programs and this plans, um, and every piece of feedback is really, really important for us.
Rebekah Shackney (14:28):
Well, and I've heard, um, you've been extremely responsive. I mean, I've heard stories about principals, um, you know, emailing and calling on the, on Sundays and just really responsive. And I know people are really grateful for that. Um, what have been some of the obstacles you've encountered?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (14:49):
Yeah, I think there've been many, I mean, number one, you know, um, from the ordering materials and then being delayed, that's one, right? No matter how proactive you were, you know, we just heard recently that, uh, computers that we ordered back in early may maybe have been delayed, um, you know, we were working out and then it just throws your plans off a little bit, you know? Um, and, uh, that's one, you know, the, the space challenges are another, you know, just, you know, you're trying to double in size to serve all your kids cause you're taking half and multiplying them times two, in other words. Um, and, um, and just the equity issues, there are various needs in our community that we're trying to, um, really address, you know, going, this is elevated, you know, to some extent what we know are some of the needs in our community, even more so.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (15:42):
Um, and so trying to address them before we go back into a space, um, if we know it, you know, we can predict it if we can predict that we can plan for it. And that's really what we've kind of trying to work through right now. So there's, there's a lot of layers to the challenges and trying to, trying to appease everybody is something that, you know, is, is a challenge, knowing that that's just not gonna happen, but, you know, we're always striving to make everyone feel happy, our kids and our families. Um, and yet I know that, um, I, in reality, it's probably not going to happen. Um, and, but nonetheless, it still hurts that you can't. Right. So, um, but that, those are some of the overarching pieces to it. Yeah.
Rebekah Shackney (16:26):
Yeah. So I'm just wondering, I know the social media buzz is really heated and how do you deal with it?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (16:34):
Yeah. Um, some of that comes to me and I hear about it. Um, I think it helps to some extent in that I, um, it makes me assess my communication a little bit, you know, in terms of how much I've, I, you know, maybe I haven't been clear enough, maybe I have maybe, uh, where there's, you know, ambiguity it, uh, I can try attempt to clear it up. Um, we just put something out just recently, just a frequently asked questions from the department of health that I think will help families. So it's out there. And I think we always just put it in perspective, but, you know, beyond like there might be the extremes to whatever the messages are, but somewhere in between, there's some takeaway, right. So we just try to put it in balance and, um, what I just want from everyone to really understand that we may not necessarily always make the right, you know, we're not always perfect, but what I hope there's an understanding is that we're working hard to try to get there.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (17:31):
Um, and nor will we ever be perfect, but we're always striving for it. The last one is that I often use the opportunity when I do engage with families and know that maybe social media just it's always best...sometimes as adults, we, we, you know, even children, we all, you know, we go there as the first place and maybe first place is to come to the school and we can try to address it before it becomes sort of this, you know, overarching. And right now everyone's so sensitive that, you know, we just have to be cautious of, you know, we're putting out there because, you know, it just becomes perception and then perception becomes reality for some people.
Rebekah Shackney (18:05):
Right. Right. And it's really hard. And it's real. This is really stressful for absolutely everybody. So, um, it's no wonder things are so heated, but I think that that's a really good, um, suggestion to come to school administrators, principals, teachers, before you put it out there on social media
Dr. Ray Sanchez (18:24):
Yeah. I think, you know, to your point a little earlier, you know, our principals are working hard to be responsive. Um, when parents email me and it has like six or seven bullets, you know, I often just email them back and say, can I call you? Because it's just easier to describe it and we'll go, you know, because even the written word can be misinterpreted. So sometimes just, uh, you know, making sure that everyone's clear on what we're sharing and that's why, you know, over the course of the next few weeks, we intend to have a number of parent informational sessions. You know, we have a board meeting tomorrow night and then some various other meetings. So, you know, hopefully we repeat, repeat, repeat so that, you know, uh, individuals feel more and more comfortable with the, uh, the options were presented and that we work together. Cause this is the plan will only work if we're doing it together.
Rebekah Shackney (19:11):
If you could clarify one thing to the people of Ossining, what would that be? What's the most misunderstood subject in all of this.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (19:19):
Yeah. That's a, that's a good question. Cause there's so many others like, uh, you know, I just learned today, someone said, you should tell him what are we haven't heard officially what our plan is. And, and I miss that. I maybe I misunderstood that. I pause a little bit to say, you know, I didn't officially make the word and say it's hybrid. I assume that it went, everyone knew we were going live. That w we were going to, uh, a hybrid model. Um, I I've had to clarify that. And I've had to put that back in, uh, I think the questions of, of COVID testing of surface, you know, are we responsible for testing, uh, our students and families that has been out there and partially because I don't in no way do I blame our parents or in our community and our staff for thinking it's, it's, there's snippets from the governor and his statements that in turn lead to some misperception.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (20:08):
So he recently put out it wasn't in his original guidance, but he said, you know, uh, your COVID testing plan has to be on your website by this Friday. Well, that led a lot of families to think, are you testing are you testing your students before they come here? Are you testing your, your staff before they come. Um, and that's never been the case, you know, um, we're not a testing site. And, um, I leave that and we collaborate with our, you know, medical professionals to make sure of that. So those are just some of the pieces and then the, the clarity around the schedules and how instruction will take place. And that one, I think, you know, we, we were working to clarify that a little bit further, but we're still tweaking it as we go along. Um, and I would say that that's going to continue to be tweaked with every meeting we have with families.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (20:57):
Um, because otherwise, if, if it's a plan, then I might as well be easier to just put out a memo and say, this is it. But if we're sincerely listening, then you need to adapt a little bit based on what you hear from your families. And, uh, and we've done that along the way. And we've, you know, we just had a student meeting at the high school and the kids gave us some good feedback. So, you know, that's important for us to integrate and, uh, otherwise, you know, people lose faith in the meetings too. They'll just, they're not gonna listen. So we aren't listening. And, um, and we're continuing to work and think, and at the board meeting coming up, I, you know, I hope to share more publicly some of the challenges we're facing and being a little more transparent.
Rebekah Shackney (21:38):
So what happens if there's a positive test in the schools after we opened.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (21:43):
I just sent out a that's actually in the guidance that I just gained from department health. Um, they gave us a real strong FAQ. Um, and there's, you know, they, uh, basically where it's going to start is, you know, if there's anything we're going to, we're going to work with department health, they're going to guide us, you know, whether it calls for the closure of the school, whether it calls closure, you know, the cancellation of that class, those are the variations that need to happen. And I have to say, some families have made the choice to go virtual for that very reason too, is that they think it's inevitable that we're going to be in that version. And so they'd rather just start there and put themselves in that position so that it's less, you know, back and forth.
Rebekah Shackney (22:25):
And, um, the reasons we did that as well.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (22:28):
Yeah. And I, and I understand it too. There's, there's a movement, uh, among educators now to start virtual this first month, there's a movement unions are starting to raise their voice. Um, and, uh, and others to say, let's just start September virtual, see where things are. Um, the flip side to that is the numbers. aren't, you know, if we're going to open, this is the time to open.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (22:51):
There's no better numbers, like from a statistical perspective, like this is, you know, as close to zero, as, you know, in at least in terms of, in relation to where other states are. Um, so there's that aspect of it. So, you know, if you don't open now, when is the right time to open, but, you know, there's little bit of hesitancy on everyone's part and I get it. Um, uh, you know, we, we're just going to start seeing uptick, you know, as other states around us, I mean, we're bordering states that are starting to see a little bit of an uptake, and it's inevitable that it's going to come to New York and that very well may happen. Uh, that's our hypothesis. And, um, you know, you know, hope it's on accurate, but that's very well could be the case. Um, but I've heard that story from families is, you know, they prefer the hybrid, but they just think we're going to be in this space so might as well just start there. Um, what I have to worry about as a superintendent is, um, overall it was, you know, all families. And then I just worry about students that really, you know, connectivity issues and everything else like their learning's not as, and so we're trying to figure out where we can maybe open our schools, at least for students and families, you know, to say, you want to drop them off, we'll provide childcare and you can get to work. And they're going to be able to log on. We know there's internet access, there'll be food and open it up to, you know, any family that wants to do it, obviously, you know, we have, we need numbers and people I would have to register, and I can't have like the ins and outs, but, um, and I think that's just another way we have to respond to our families.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (24:27):
So it's going remote is just, you know, that just exacerbates some of the work challenges that families have. Right. So, um, and if we're, you know, from an education, we need funding, we need, you know, we gotta do our part for the economy too. And, uh, and still maintain safety, you know, so, you know, the governor was talking about the cogs working together, and we know we're important cog in that. Um, but we may or may not be able to move the cog. That's the other part. So, and safety is really, uh, you know, obviously a priority right now.
Rebekah Shackney (24:56):
Excellent. So how are you managing your stress right now?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (25:02):
Yeah, I can't say I'm probably doing it so well, you know, that's a, that's just, you know, the very honest answer cause, uh, there's a high level of stress, you know, for all the reasons, not only just if everything was moving forward in a linear way and, um, just getting that would be stressful enough, but, you know, I just shared some of the obstacles, every obstacle presents, just, okay, we've got to go back to the drawing board and we got to edit. Um, and so that's, you know, that's, those are just layers to the work. Um, but you know, I, I, like I said, I have a very supportive wife at home, um, and my kids and, you know, the weekends have been more of our time. Um, and, um, and knowing that together, we've been able to work out the challenges of child, you know, my kids and others, you know, in terms of their health and wellness, then it's one less point of stress.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (25:58):
Um, and I'm walking, you know, um, wake up in the morning and we walked for about two miles and listen to a podcast or listen to the radio. Maybe I'll listen to this, you know, clearly listened to this at some point. Um, so those are helpful, you know, just disconnect and not make an educationally related sometimes, uh, really helpful. Um, and I just started a book, so let's, let me see if I can get through that one, but...
Rebekah Shackney (26:21):
What are you reading?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (26:23):
I'm going to get the title wrong, but it's a True North it's about leaders, uh, in various organizations, not just in education and how they've, uh, worked to maintain, like their core values are integrated into the organizations, um, use an example of Starbucks and others and how those companies were developed. Um, and the sense of authenticity one has to maintain as a, as a leader.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (26:46):
Excellent. Um, so what advice do you have for the parents who are struggling?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (26:51):
Yeah. Um, either for each other, you know, it's okay to reach out, you know, um, we don't have to take this on alone and, um, and there are many great communities, but Ossining, you know, stands out as a very supportive community. I think there's a lot of individuals that want to help. And the question is how do we create circles for ourselves to just talk and share our frustrations and share successes and share. So I would just say, you know, you have to reach out and, um, and you know, I worry sometimes about parents going into the winter months and maybe just, you know, the sense of isolation that can happen. And I think, you know, we're going to try as a school community to, you know, support the community piece. And I think also, you know, um, and we've said it, and I think it's referenced here is you can't care for others if you're not caring for yourself.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (27:40):
And so there's an element of this that, you know, you have to pause and say, and it's hard now with time, but you know, you gotta take a half hour and half hour might've been an hour in the past. Right. Um, and, but you have to take the time, um, and find something that you really find and appreciate and find brings you joy. Um, so, um, there's a lot of self help type ideas, but in the end, uh, from, from breathing to, uh, taking a 30 minute walk or they don't necessarily have to be costly and take a lot of your time, but you've got to find a little bit of space to do that. And once again, I just say, just reach out, like don't, you know, the struggles. And when we get back into school, if there's challenges, you know, the school is here for you and we don't want to add more layers of stress to anyone we want to help. Um, so that helps our kids.
Rebekah Shackney (28:31):
Absolutely. And one of the things I always say to my kids is that there's no problem that we can't fix. So I really, and I think that reaching out and talking about it is so important because when you sit with it, it's so much bigger in your mind than it probably is in real life. And when you talk about it, you can solve the problem.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (28:53):
Rebekah Shackney (28:54):
So that's a really good suggestion. Um, so how can we as a community, best support you and the administration and the teachers and staff and students.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (29:05):
I would say, continue doing what we're doing. Um, you know, the, the, the communities given us, I know they're anxious. Um, but I feel like they've given us adequate space to think. Um, and I think it's really important. Um, granted, you know, some families are emailing and that's okay, we get it. Um, but I think what's important is that we, you know, you've given us a little bit of space and then ask for clarification where we need to, and, and help us, um, and understand that we it's, this is all iterative. It's not going to be perfect. And I might come back to you and say, we miss something, we gotta change it. Um, so understand the perspective of this is that we're really building this. Like, it's, you know, it's uncharted and we know that, um, and we've never done this before. So we're all trying to learn.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (29:50):
And, and, and any edits we have is in the best interest of our kids and families and staff, I should say. And the other part of it too, is just, you know, reaching out to each other and just making sure, like I said before, just be conscious of what others might need. And in addition to what you need. Together, there might be some super powers that we create. You know, we may compliment each other really well, and I've seen that start to happen. And, you know, I think those are the, probably a few of the spaces that our families can help us with. Um, I mean, we're sitting in a room that normally I'd just say is full of books and supplies and other that we pause and we collect and they're all donations. And, uh, when we get them back in the hands of our kids, you know, that that's just speaks to Ossining and the willingness to support each other and support all our children, um, across the community.
Rebekah Shackney (30:37):
So what specifically could someone do if they're listening today and they want to support, maybe you've mentioned, there are some families who are really struggling right now. Maybe some families are struggling emotionally. Is there a place that someone can go to volunteer?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (30:53):
Yeah, we're, we're, we're, we're working towards. And I use that phrase a lot, but we are working towards creating some more structured, volunteer opportunities. Um, we want to really, we're actually, right now, we're talking through a concept, but you know, I'm hoping to lifts is to create like a real hub where we can store the resources and call it like a, you know, uh, a play on Amazon prime where, you know, you know, the family needs something, we get the ticket and we get the resources out to the family. That's going to take some work if we get that up off the ground. So I use that as an example, cause those are the types of things that we're trying to, and we're going to need human capital to really kind of lift some of these. And not necessarily, I may not have enough staff to do that, but I know there's a lot of caring.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (31:37):
I see it with food distributions that are happening and throughout this community that, you know, people can dedicate a half hour an hour here and there we'll take it. Um, and the other part too is also, you know, there's, I assume there'll be volunteer opportunities even just to work with kids and helping them academically. And I think those are places where you have expertise to come in and share. Um, even if there's careers and others just to share that expertise with our kids. Um, I think those are all places, but, uh, we'll probably be putting out some real, like discreet, you know, pointed, uh, opportunities that might be available for our families. And, um, and I have to say when we've done that, it's been very humbling to see how many families actually choose to help us not surprising, but just humbling.
Rebekah Shackney (32:21):
Excellent. No, I mean, I would love to be able to help. I can teach mindfulness skills. I can, you know, offer a DBT skills or teach people how to manage their emotions more effectively. And I would love to do that. Um, but it's, it would be helpful to know how to do that.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (32:40):
No, I'm sitting here saying I, you know, we have to talk after the podcasts cause, uh, there are clearly some opportunities that, uh, but I think everyone has their unique skills. I've seen that in the threads of, you know, whether it's a Facebook live or in the comments on zoom or others, it's like, you know, I have this skill. I think someone just, uh, put it in the thread yesterday, Facebook live that they're an engineer and they can help us problem solve. Um, we're trying to create, you know, a, some families have said, you know, if we can to try to create these opportunities, particularly on those days that kids are virtual, where families can still drop off, you know, get, uh, their kids can still engage in the online learning, but you know, then in turn, families can get to work. Those are structures that we're trying to work out, but we may need, you know, in addition to our staff, some, some additional help in that.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (33:25):
So, uh, you know, we would put that out to everybody and see where, where we can, but there's a lot of expertise here in Ossining and actually neighboring communities and others, you know, we've, you know, we, don't just pause and just maintain, like if anyone could help us and in a virtual world like zoom and others, and you can expand your reach. Um, you know, we have partnerships with Pace University, which provide some like student teachers and some tutoring help, but now because of some of it's virtual, we, you know, we can actually reach students that are at the New York City campus. So it's just really provided some opportunity and people want to help and it's been good. Yeah. That's great.
Rebekah Shackney (34:03):
Have you started, um, producing your back to school video?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (34:08):
I don't know what I'll be able to produce, but honestly, yeah. And I've seen that I've seen on Facebook. Some families have sent to me that, uh, you know, I, you know, I hope he doesn't drop the ball on that one. Um, it may, uh, um, um, it's going to be hard for me to, to, to replicate, but, uh, it might be a montage of the old ones together. And just, just as a reminder, but, uh, you know, I saw the one with, uh, there was a high school principal. It wasn't to, it's like an empty hammer song and I got a lot of that saying, you know, are you going to do the same thing? And I'd love to, it's just, it's some of those take a lot of time. So,
Rebekah Shackney (34:43):
So finally, what has been your guilty pleasure during this pandemic?
Dr. Ray Sanchez (34:50):
Well, that's, that's an interesting question.
Rebekah Shackney (34:53):
I mean, a lot of people are eating richer foods or watching binge watching something on Netflix or just all kinds of things just to, you know, for comfort.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (35:05):
Yeah. You know, what I would say is just a, I've been enjoying ice cream a lot more than I have in the past, um, significantly more. And, um, that's where we saw each other actually. Uh, we, you know, it was down trying the, uh, the new ice cream shop right by the waterfront. Uh, yeah. So, uh, been there a couple of times. And, um, so, you know, I'd say, you know, ice cream has surfaced a little bit more as a guilty pleasure during this, uh, pandemic. So, and I may stay after the pandemic too, so.
Rebekah Shackney (35:36):
Excellent. I know that the people at Bigfoot will be happy to hear that,
Dr. Ray Sanchez (35:41):
Oh, I have a great little spot there. Yeah.
Rebekah Shackney (35:44):
Yeah. They're our neighbors. We're lucky to live next door. We got to be taste testers before they open.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (35:50):
You never know what you're going to find when you go on it. Cause every, I think every is every day, a little different. Yeah.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (35:56):
Yeah. So is there something that you would like to speak to, um, that I haven't asked you,
Dr. Ray Sanchez (36:02):
You know, if there's anything, this is, um, I think the pandemic has, uh, has shown where, you know, there's, there, there are some silver linings in all of this. Um, I'm not suggesting that, you know, the, the concern and the, you know, obviously the health concerns are, but there are some new learning. And, um, you know, I think it's, it's led me to think and put things a little bit more in perspective than I have in the past. And I think we all need to kind of pause. And then the fact of, you know, this is how we do this is, you know, and how we get through this is, is for being there, being there with each other and having hope, and no matter if it's pandemic or not, those are values and, you know, saw, you know, big ideas that we shouldn't lose when we go back and we will go back.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (36:48):
Um, and my worry sometimes is that, you know, there's this theory of creep, um, meaning that like sort of these old philosophies and thought processes come into play. Um, and we just have to continue to remind ourselves to, you know, make sure we continue to have hope, put things in perspective and, um, and be there for each other, like those are qualities and characteristics that we want to maintained no matter what. And, um, I would say that, and, you know, and at the same time, I think we've also learned about ourselves a little bit more and, and what we can do to, you know, just sell, you know, from a personal perspective and then as a society as well.
Rebekah Shackney (37:26):
Yeah, no, I think it's so important right now that we are therefore each other and therefore ourselves and really gentle with each other because everyone is going to have some sort of an emotional reaction to this. And, um, it's really important to not be afraid of that and push it away. So we're actually one of the 1100 families who are doing all virtual. And the reason we did that is we have a six year old who is, um, really unable to keep his mask on for any length of time and unable. He just, he's a creeper he'll get closer to you by, you know, little bits. And so if I'm not standing right next to him, he can't social distance, be socially distant. So that's why we did that. And we really appreciate that. And we also know a lot of other people who are immune compromised, um, or what, you know, for whatever reason, um, it has made it very, uh, much more comfortable for them.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (38:27):
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. And I realize, I mean, my putting it out it's, you know, clearly, you know, there was a lot of angst of like, Hey, we got this Monday date that people have to make a decision on is not enough details. And, you know, 1100 shows at some, some individuals were ready, um, and still we're, you know, we're going to listen and see what families have to say. If there's unique circumstances, you know, we got some emails saying my power's down and we get it, you know, we understand, and in no way, was it ever intended to add more stress? Um, in fact, just giving the option was to hopefully alleviate some of the stress that families are under. Um, because it's, you know, I realize that there's, there's a lot and you know, your child and you've known them even more during how they're responding to, you know, the, the COVID, you know, panemic and how they're they are as a learner.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (39:18):
And so, you know, that's, uh, I understand, and my son struggles the same, and I worry about that too, you know, because he's been going to camps and, uh, the camp, you know, they had two experiences, you know, in neither case out there, uh, you know, my son lesser so my daughter, but my son, he really struggled with wearing the mask all day, um, hates it. And, um, listen, I hate it too. It's just like, uh, but it's an, you know, it's a necessity right now. And, um, but I don't know if you know, I'm going through the same thing. Um, and I don't necessarily have the same option that we presented here, but we'll see. I mean, um, but yet my youngest less her, so I wouldn't be as concerned. So like, it just speaks to each child is a little bit different. Um, and I've had families call me and say, you know, I'm going to do it for this one, but not the other one.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (40:12):
And, um, and sometimes they told me, my kid, my child is just highly anxious about this and they, they will not enter that school, even if I, even though I feel comfortable. And so it's just, um, I mean, there's, there's work to be done now that we have what we have the information from families and from a staffing perspective, you know, we want to dedicate a teacher to I've said that, uh, the parents, um, and we think we can, um, you know, based on the numbers that we have and I'll share, like, I mean, it's 11 hundreds about, you know, it's about 10% per grade level and almost, and, um, you know, we can, we're going to work it out.
Rebekah Shackney (40:50):
Great. Well, thank you very much for creating that and thank you.
Dr. Ray Sanchez (40:53):
No, this is great. It was actually therapeutic. I have to say it took me away from all the other stuff. So I appreciate it.
Rebekah Shackney (41:01):
And thank you for listening to a therapist, takes her own advice. If you connected with what you heard here, and you want to work with me, go to my website, Rebekahshackney.com and send me a message through my contact page. And if you have enjoyed what you've heard here, please subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.