New school resource aide adjusts to SHS amidst online learning

September 1, 2020 — by Marisa Kingsley and Shreya Rallabandi

When Career Based Instruction (CBI) teacher Courtney Crase-Delp initially mentioned a school resource aide opening at SHS to her neighbor and friend Erin Alongi, Alongi was a little bit hesitant, having never worked at a high school before.  

“[Alongi] had worked in special education before and so she has a background in supporting students with high needs,” Crase-Delp said. “We would chat often after school and I thought moving to Saratoga would be good for her.”

Alongi decided to apply for an open position. Now Alongi, along with Dylan Woods, is one of the new school resource aides this year.

Alongi now works as a case manager for four students enrolled in the CBI program, which teaches students with special needs social and daily living skills to prepare them for adulthood. She accompanies her students to general education classes outside the program, monitors their needs and maintains communication with their parents and teachers to provide them with the necessary support. 

However, with the onset of remote learning, Alongi’s role has been rewired. In the absence of in-person interaction, the inability to use facial expressions and body language with her students presents a challenge in communicating with them. Rather than supporting her students directly, she is only able to help and observe them through a computer screen.

“The big difference is that you don’t have that face-to-face bond with a student,” Alongi said. “I know for myself, all of [the] remote learning can get a little overwhelming, so I would imagine that it’s really overwhelming for a student with special needs.”

Before working here, Alongi was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years and a school resource aide at Lynnhaven Elementary in Campbell for six years, where she worked with children in transitional kindergarten through second grade. Once the teacher Alongi worked with retired, she began searching for another position. That is when Crase-Delp, who Alongi describes as a “driving force” in her decision to apply, told her about the opening at SHS.

Alongi says that the transition from a small elementary school to high school has been an interesting one, especially considering that she is unable to meet new colleagues and students due to remote learning. But she notes that the staff has been supportive in easing the transition. 

“It’s different for sure since you’re not meeting people the normal way, but it’s been very welcoming,” Alongi said. “The other aides that I’m working with have gone above and beyond to help.” 

Despite the extraordinary circumstances, Alongi has been adjusting well. She looks forward to meeting her coworkers in person, especially the staff working in her department, and is excited to be able to enter the classroom again and meet her students. 

Crase-Delp believes that Alongi is a strong addition to the CBI program and is grateful for the opportunity to work with her and help her navigate the remote learning environment.

“She’s a go-getter. She took the crazy schedule we have and was able to decipher it and connect with students,” Crase-Delp said. “She’s a hard worker and we’re happy to have her be a part of our team.”

 

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Due to the lightning complex that occurred in the week of Aug.17, Santa Clara County is currently surrounded by wildfires, covering the city of Saratoga in heavy smoke. The air quality was in the range of 100 to 200 for the past five days, forcing SHS to close down. Photo by Selina Chen.

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