For his last Family Therapy class of this semester, Dr. David Landsman-Wohlsifer (“Dr. David”) asked his final-year master’s students to prepare a performance piece about the impact family therapy has had on them, either personally or professionally, that they would then perform during the virtual class finale. One student wrote a poem. Another student performed a monologue. Another student shared a self-made song mix that included “Pomp and Circumstance” playing in the background.
Dr. David noticed that many of his students began to cry as they listened. He stopped the class and asked if everyone was okay. They replied that, hearing the famous graduation march song had reminded them that they weren’t going to have an in-person graduation celebration this Spring due to COVID-19, and that it made them sad that they were missing out on the age-old tradition. Dr. David dismissed his students for a 10-minute break and told them that when class resumed, he was going to share a performance piece of his own.
“I wasn’t planning to perform, but it occurred to me that my students needed a ritual,” Dr. David said. “They needed the closure of commencement.”
When the students returned to the virtual classroom after the break, Dr. David, was donning his full academic regalia. His husband, Jeff Landsman-Wohlsifer, LCSW, was seated beside him and wearing an FAU sweatshirt. Dr. David asked the song-mixing student to please resume playing “Pomp and Circumstance”. He then read each students’ name, one by one, while Jeff applauded and cheered heartily for each of them.
“My students needed this transition and to celebrate their accomplishment, and it gave me closure, too,” Dr. David said. “I needed the year to come to an end. I needed to welcome them to the Social Work profession. We do it every year, and it’s important. The FAU student is a special student. We have first-gen students; we have people in recovery; we have people from all corners of the world who never thought they would get a graduate degree, and I didn’t want it to go unnoticed.”
Thank you, Dr. David, for providing your students with such a creative, impromptu and meaningful surprise!
Incorporating the success of this class and how well it transitioned to the virtual learning environment, Dr. David is joining his colleagues, Dr. JuYoung Park and Dr. Laurie Suttenberg, to write an article for a special edition of Clinical Social Work Journal that will focus on the impact of COVID-19 on social work and clinical practice. Their abstract was accepted this past week, and we can’t wait to read the article in a forthcoming issue!