NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A number of people helping us deal with the coronavirus pandemic often go unnoticed.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez introduces us to an unsung hero who is keeping young students connected.
Danny Martinez of New Rochelle is doing house calls while it’s still unsafe for kids to go back to school.
“My job is to make sure the students are engaged,” Martinez said. “At all costs.”
Martinez is an attendance teacher, what “old school” folks would call a truancy officer.
He’s one of five in the New Rochelle Public School District.
Now, Martinez’s job is not as simple as checking for empty desks.
“I worry about the child, that the parent has to go to work,” said Martinez. “And he or she is left home alone to do distance learning on their own, with no parental supervision because parents are essential workers and they have to go work. And if they don’t work, they don’t have a meal.”
Martinez saved the day for countless students whom teachers say had not logged on for remote learning.
Some were without internet service or sharing Chromebooks with siblings or working on smartphones and struggling to stay connected.
“One child, he had a Chromebook and it wasn’t working anymore. So when I was doing the visit to check up why he wasn’t engaged, he told me that his device was broken,” said Martinez. “So I told him I’d be back in a half an hour, and I went to the distribution site and got him a Chromebook.”
School administrators tell CBS2 they are proud to call Martinez one of their own.
“They crossed their roles, people had to get out of their lanes to support one another and everybody’s basically willing to do anything to help our community,” said Dr. Anthony Bongo, assistant superintendent for special services.
“There are a few people who were knocking on doors and trying to determine where our students are. And Danny Martinez was at the top of that list” said Rhonda Jones, director of pupil services. “He’s very caring, compassionate. Always goes more than 100 percent to do what’s right on behalf of our students and families.”
Martinez says he does not feel like he’s going above and beyond.
He says he’s just doing his job.
CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention