Poly Moms Find Community Through Support Group – Pasadena Schools

From left to right: Maria D’Amato, Mandy Madnikoff, Laura Gershonhorn, Rachel Dunham, Jacklyn Clark, Katrina Damasco, Serra Leroy, Alex Bryndzia, Katie Currin. Not pictured: Hallie Rogers and Alex Velasco.

In the fall of 2019, Serra Leroy, a high school English teacher, designed one of her Folio goals around the following question:

“How can I meaningfully connect with other new faculty / staff Moms in our larger K-12 school community?” “

She had just had a baby in April and was enjoying going to a new moms group in Pasadena. “I realized how much I wanted to continue that type of connection with the people I work with,” she said.

What happened from the goal was a Poly Moms support group that communicates via Whatsapp and in-person events across all divisions, including faculty and staff. It has been a way to get to know the community better and a good way for new moms to maintain a “sense of sanity by having similar questions”.

What started with around five members of the group has blossomed to include over 10 new moms. The group has also existed throughout the pandemic when childcare burdens were the most taxing on parents around the world. On some occasions in 2020, Friday nights for the group became a virtual happy hour with “tears of joy” while swapping WhatsApp stories to try to keep it all together.

“The group was helpful during the pandemic because I didn’t see anyone in person and the group made me feel less isolated,” said lower school coordinator Jackie Clark. “As a first-time mom, you can read all of these books and articles online, but they just confuse you. That’s why it’s been so great having a great group of friends because I knew I wasn’t alone.

For the group, every aspect of motherhood is on the table for discussion. Even though most of their conversations are still “virtual”, the group maintains the space as a non-judgmental zone where things that may seem scary or embarrassing are greeted with understanding.

“One thing that was nice was that there were different times when each of us exhibited something super overwhelming,” Serra said. “Now we have a group of people who would totally understand and say, ‘Here are other ways of looking at it. It is good to express stressful thoughts and let them go.

The group’s shared experience reminds us that the pandemic is not over for those with children who cannot be vaccinated.

“So many people forget that if you have kids under the age of 12, they still can’t get the shot,” said Rachel Dunham, a high school science teacher. “As a parent you are terrified that you cannot risk passing infections to your child. We make risk management decisions every hour of every day.

The group agrees that what started out as an experiment has turned into a really interesting folio lens.

“It has been a safe space to be vulnerable during a truly traumatic year and one that left me feeling unjudged in tough times,” said Laura Gershenhorn, an English teacher at the college.

Polytechnic, 1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 396-6300 or visit www.polytechnique.org.

Virginia S. Braud