Ms. Heckman: The Jedi Master of Mental Health

Our school’s social worker has gone above and beyond in her short time at Bronx Science

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Logan Klinger

For Ms. Heckman, talking to students one-on-one in a confidential setting is the key to helping them to achieve emotional and mental well-being.

Entering Ms. Heckman’s room will make you feel as if you are in a galaxy far, far away. Visiting our new school social worker is the perfect opportunity for students to unwind, and to speak about any issues concerning mental wellness and social health. Sometimes this entails aiding students in identifying and progressing toards solutions, and other times she is simply a shoulder to lean on.

“My official job is, at the most basic level, providing support to students who need it,” said Ms. Heckman. Though she works in the Guidance Office, in room 035U, her job differs from the other guidance counselors.

“The biggest difference between guidance counselors and social workers is that guidance counselors, while their work encompasses the social-emotional aspects of their care for the students, is primarily focused on academics, whereas social work in and of itself is the basis of social emotional health and mental illness,” said Ms. Heckman.

Although her job often requires dealing with difficult circumstances, for students, being in her office alone in a one-on-one conversation is guaranteed to lower stress. Equipped with an R2-D2 bean bag chair, candy, and a coffee mug in hand, she’s thrilled to aid students with anything that they may need. Ms. Heckman aims to cultivate her office as one with an inviting atmosphere, decorating it with warm, engaging posters. She works to make sure that all students feel secure and protected, regardless if it is in a homey safe-space or the universe outside of Bronx Science.

It is evident that Ms. Heckman is a passionate person. Along with being a ‘Star Wars’ fanatic, she enjoys baking and various forms of dance such as hip-hop and ballet. In her free time, she partakes in these activities with her daughter, and laughs about how many Cardi B songs her toddler knows. She has previously been involved in in many forms of social work, including working in hospital settings.

“Ms. Heckman is professional, compassionate, dedicated and one hundred percent student-centered,” said Mr. Nasser, the Assistant Principal of the Guidance Department “Every conversation we have had was focused on improving the student experience at Bronx Science.”

Although Ms. Heckman has only been working at Bronx Science for the past four months months, she has already created a formidable reputation for herself. She is adored by the Bronx Science community.

According to Mr. Nasser, Ms. Heckman has frequently visited the S.O. Cabinet and created ‘Talk About it Tuesday,’ which was introduced during Mental Health Week. ‘Talk About it Tuesday’ was designed as a forum for students to voice their experiences and opinions on mental health. All students are welcome, and it will be taking place every Tuesday after school in a still pending location.

Along with ‘Talk About it Tuesday,’ Ms. Heckman is planning on advising the Bring Change 2 Mind Club, or BC2M. This club was originally founded by Glenn Close, an award-winning actress and advocate, whose sister lives with bipolar disorder. The club’s goal is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and to establish a supportive school community.

Ms. Heckman encourages students to not just speak to her, but also to “talk to your guidance counselor, talk to your teacher, talk to your friend, talk to a stranger on the street. If you think you’re going to be in trouble, let someone know, and you’ll eventually get to the right place.”

Part of her job is to enforce a strict rule of confidentiality, which means that everything said in her office stays there. She is mandated to not speak to anyone about what is addressed, including parents.

“It’s important to feel warm and welcome in any environment you are in, so that’s what I hope to create here in well.” Ms. Heckman said, understandably the Jedi master of mental health and wellness.

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