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Erin Gaetano Persch ’09, School Counselor, learns a new method for connecting with her students: TikTok

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Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

It's no surprise that Erin Gaetano Persch ’09 has been gaining followers over the past few months on Instagram - a platform she uses to pour positivity into the lives of her students. Read through the Q&A where she shares what spurred her decision to enter the realm of social media and learn a new communications tactic.

What passions did you follow after graduating from Westminster? In 2009, I graduated with degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. After college, I was hired at George Junior Republic where I completed my practicum and fell in love with the school. While I was there, I realized I wanted to explore the student's feelings, hopes, and dreams and continued my education at Westminster, getting my Masters in School Counseling in 2013. I applied and landed my first counseling job as an elementary counselor in 2014, then became the Grove City Middle School Counselor in 2016. It truly doesn't feel like a "job" because it is my passion.  

Why did you decide to learn a new way of communicating? What prompted your mastering of TikTok? I started thinking of ways to connect to my students during the beginning of COVID - I was heartbroken with the shutdown and wanted to reach them more than ever and to know they were okay. During that time, we utilized our Google Classroom platform but I wanted to connect even more. I always spoke to students about social media and discussed how to stay safe on the internet. To be honest, I "DISLIKED" social media at first. It caused many issues among my students. But I figured out a way to turn a negative into a positive. I can't control if students will engage on social media, but I can control myself by being a positive "force" that they can see on the platform.  

Tell us what this has helped you to accomplish. My hope was to become more approachable and relatable. I want students to understand I am not a "disciplinarian" or only around for crisis. I want to be a child advocate for all students and will represent positivity and kindness while teaching lessons and having fun with it. I want my students to see me as a real person (even if I am goofy), but they can come and talk to me and we can find a solution.

Why is it important that everyone learns to adapt the way they get their messages across in all realms of life? What has it taught you? Technology is here to stay, so we need to embrace and grow with it.  

Learn more about Erin in one of her most recent videos or keep reading the April Wake Up with Wiley.