Robyn Harold is a teacher at Sardis Secondary School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Robyn Harold is a teacher at Sardis Secondary School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Heroes in Education: ‘Crisis ninja’ finds joy in helping youth

Sardis Secondary child and youth worker Robyn Harold had to get creative in pandemic

The Chilliwack Progress is honoured to profile four ‘Heroes in Education’ from a long and amazing list of nominees sent to us from the Chilliwack community.

Robyn Harold laughingly calls herself a ‘crisis ninja.’

As the child and youth worker at Sardis Secondary, her role is to help many of the 1,400 students within those walls deal with problems big and small.

“One kid comes in crying. I give them a snack. They calm down enough for me to send them on their way and a new one’s coming in,” she said. “It can be busy and chaotic, but I love working with youth and I think they know that. When kids come in proud of themselves, and you can see in their eyes that they’ve realized they’re worthy, that’s the biggest joy in this job.

“When they light up from the inside, hands down, that’s the reward.”

Humour is the biggest tool in Harold’s tool-kit.

She is energetic. She smiles. She says she “has a lot of street cred” after being at Sardis for 10 years.

“They need someone to light up for them. A lot of the kids I work with, they’re not the academic kids or the sports kids or the arts kids,” Harold said. “They’re these kids who have all this potential, but haven’t been shown how to use it.

“Believing in them before they believe in themselves is so important.”

Harold’s job became more complicated during COVID.

Teenagers didn’t stop having problems, but she couldn’t meet with them face to face. Doing the work from home was difficult, and she had to “get really creative.” That meant meeting kids in parks or at a local Tim Hortons, going wherever she needed to go to help teens in need.

“Some of them just needed to see my smiling face and know it was going to be OK,” she recalled. “A lot of it was focusing on the Grade 12s. They thought they were going to come back from spring break (in 2020) and then they weren’t.

“It was a lot of grief and loss support in the beginning, and supporting them through that.”

In Harold’s eyes, it’s never been more difficult to be a teenager, and COVID was just one more thing.

“Kids in 2012 were dealing with completely different things than these ones are now,” she said. “Social media is so much more intrusive now. There are so many things they’re navigating that they don’t get to turn off. They’re never not connected anymore.”

Harold’s time at Sardis Secondary is winding down. At year’s end she’ll be leaving to pursue a new role in private practice, and Sardis principal Lynnet Schramm is sad to see her go.

“Robyn is one of the most valuable members of our student services team here at Sardis, and that is almost an understatement,” Schramm said. “She is a team player and she invests in each and every student she works with. She provides wrap-around support for her students, from being a part of this educational institution, to making sure their basic needs are met, both physically and emotionally.

“She encourages her students to have positive relationships with parents, siblings, peers, teachers, adults and in the community. She truly prepares students for life, all while making sure they are here to get a good education.”

Go to theprogress.com/community to read about Chilliwack’s other Heroes in Education. All four features will be published April 30 and May 1, 2022.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@hopestandard.com

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