The unsung heroes of South stay committed through Covid restrictions


Sofia Oyarzun

Welcoming workers: Catherine Furse greets in-person students with a friendly face.

Grace Clark and Sofia Oyarzun

Working diligently every day, South faculty members like paraprofessionals and instructional assistants have received little to no recognition for their efforts, according to Dan Gorski, security coordinator of paraprofessionals and instructional assistants. Even though they do important work for the school, many of these staff members remain unsung heroes, without the encouragement they deserve.

Gorski explained that each independent job contributes to the big picture of the school’s function and that everyone’s work is very important to keep the school running smoothly.

“[There are] all kinds of things that we do, that people will see us [doing], but they don’t know the backside of it,” Gorski said. “There’s so much that we do that you would never know, but if we didn’t do it, you would know.”

Fulfilling tasks and duties in the building, along with keeping up with the evolving guidelines of unprecedented times, is very challenging, according to Gorski. Soldiering through these challenges not only exemplifies the strength and stability of the school’s current Covid-19 precautions, but also the efforts that contribute to the dynamic, Gorski said. He explained how important these unsung heroes continue to prove to be, through any and all difficulties along the way.

“They’re very resilient,” Gorski explained. “We’re short a few people right now, and they always fill in and do it; they get done what needs to be done. I can’t praise them enough for what they do, I really can’t.”

As staff members work to maintain Covid-19 mitigation, necessary restraints may reduce human connection in the building. Implementing guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety helps the school move toward normalcy, however certain roles in the building are actively conquering the loss of camaraderie. Paraprofessional Bryson Lewis explained his role in rebonding the loss of personal connections and his contentment while doing so.

“My job is to make sure every kid here is happy, safe and knows how to get to every class,” Lewis said. “I get to motivate the kids when they’re sad, or when I see them walking in the hallways. My job is very lovable.”

Lewis explained his role while students were remote was very different than when they are in-person.

“When the kids weren’t [in person], I was still here, and the days were long with nothing to do,” Lewis explained. “But ever since the kids have been back, the days go by faster, and we have people walking in the halls to talk to.”

Challenges that come with the current guidelines of the in-person learning scene are abundant. However, making it a learning experience for everyone is a part of what has made the dynamic of in-person learning during Covid-19 functional this far. Instructional Assistant Bill McInerney explained that the restrictions have made him a more versatile teacher.

“I have teaching certification so I can kind of spread myself around if needed, so I started doing tutoring in the TLC teaching English as my subject area and I’ve also started assisting teachers in a couple of classes,” McInerney said. “I had to start shifting [my role] to address that, because that was more related to my job.”

Unlike McInerney, resource officer Adam Uscicki feels like his job hasn’t changed much because of Covid-19. He explained his daily tasks, which involve ensuring student safety, are not as impacted as one might expect.

“In the school, it really hasn’t affected me all that much; we just have a whole new set of rules to enforce, which is for everyone’s safety,” Uscicki said.

Parapro Frank Stankowicz monitors the hallways and encourages students to go to class. Stankowicz said that his job comes with some challenges, but he tries not to bring any negativity home with him.

“The biggest challenge for me is seeing people sad or upset or not having confidence in themselves, but sometimes it’s getting people to understand the importance of education,” Stankowicz reflected.

Mack Fiore, another parapro at South, joined the South community last year. Fiore has always wanted to be a part of the public education system. Now that he is a part of it, he loves hearing positive feedback from students, Fiore said.

“I love just interacting with and getting to know the students,” Fiore said. “When people remember my name or call me an unsung hero, I love that.”