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During this extraordinary time when New York City’s educators are working closely with students and families from the confines of their homes, we will be publishing a series of posts describing their experiences in their own words. We are now #DOEconnected!

Follow our hashtag, #DOEconnected, join the conversation, and connect online with your neighbors across the City. Share stories of how you, your child, a teacher, or a school community member has become your hero. Remember, not all heroes wear capes.


Joseph Foust, substitute teacher at the Hugo Newman School Regional Enrichment Center in Harlem

“I know how I would feel if I had an assignment that was absolutely essential as a first responder, and I had no other option. I would really feel happy if somebody were just to step up. You know the old adage—treat others as you would love to be treated. So I thought about that first. That’s what motivated me to [serve at the Regional Enrichment Center]—’love your neighbor.’”

Regional Enrichment Centers (REC) are “important primarily to support the first responders such as doctors, fire department, police officers, nursing staff. And many of them rely on regular school—it provides them the support that they need to take care of the main part, which really holds things together. In this kind of situation, they desperately need help. This gave me the chance to help out the community.”

Mr. Foust and the coordinators at RECs work hard to keep health guidelines and social distancing mandates, constantly reminding everyone and each other to “wash our hands, don’t touch your face, [keep a distance of] six-feet minimum—so more is better. It’s tough with children because they don’t really comprehend social distancing. So when they see us do it, it makes it a little easier for them to understand that you have to keep your space. It’s a safe practice.”

Joseph Faust is emblematic of how New York City’s educators are adapting to these unprecedented times on behalf of our students and families. We thank our educators for helping all of us to stay #DOEconnected.

Are you a first responder or an essential employee who needs child care services during these difficult times? Consider applying for placement into one of the DOE’s Regional Enrichment Centers! For more information, including eligibility information and FAQs, check out our official REC web page.

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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NYC Department of Education, 2019