In 1999, Debra Fisher worked in film and TV in New York City. But when her father became ill and required occupational therapy as part of his treatment, Fisher was impressed by the care that his therapists brought to their work. That’s when she decided to make a major career change.

Twenty-one years later, Fisher works in New York City public schools, providing occupational therapy to a wide range of students in elementary and middle school. 

Fisher met Emma Pelosi, a special education teacher, on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. They came to rely on each other for support and friendship as they invented new ways to do their jobs. 

Fisher and Pelosi recorded a conversation through StoryCorps Connect in September 2020, just as schools were preparing to reopen their doors to more than one million school children. In their interview, they talk about how it feels to work in the country’s largest school system during this unprecedented moment.   

Top Photo: Emma Pelosi and Debra Fisher after their StoryCorps interview in New York City on September 18, 2020. Courtesy of Debra Fisher and Emma Pelosi for StoryCorps.

Originally aired September 25th, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.