HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The pandemic has taken a toll on students and educators statewide.

Newly named Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker is no stranger to the obstacles ahead.

“I want to make sure that number one, our students are socially and emotionally well because you have to be well in order to engage in learning,” she said.

After a year of remote learning, in-person restrictions and hybrid models. the focus is now bouncing back from any learning loss.

“The pandemic has shown us we need to be focused on education recovery or renewal of student enrichment because of all the loss of learning that has occurred.”

A big part of this involves engaging families and communities.

News 8 asked Russel-Tucker what her message is to students and parents.

“The bottom line is I want them to know we hear them,” she said. “I understand what I need to do to support our parents and families.”

This involves recognizing there was learning loss and working tirelessly to find ways to recover, from summer enrichment to after-school programming.

“I would make the case that we look at the road to recovery. We need to look at every classroom and every student and individualize the supports that they need,” she said.

But her focus is not just on academics and curriculum.

“I really want to make sure every school building in the state has the behavioral health supports necessary so we can address those non-academic barriers to learning to make way for the academic needs that we need to address.”