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FCS’ Mary Dykeman: Parenting during a pandemic (audio)

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On this morning’s weekly COVID segment with Family Counseling Services of Cortland County:


If you or your children went to high school in Cortland County over the past three decades, chances are you know Mary Dykeman.

At the very least, you’ve heard the stories.

Powerpoints filled with “dirty words,” photos of sexually diseased genitalia and other health curriculum the average person would find very difficult to get through effectively in a class full of teenagers.

If you’re lucky enough to actually know Mary Dykeman, “beyond average” is still a pale attempt at putting her grace to words.

After 29 years teaching sexual health to youth as a public educator with the Cortland County Health Department, Dykeman was honored in 2017 by the NYSDOH with the Commissioner’s Special Recognition award.


(December 8, 2017: Dykeman receives the award in Albany)


Several years ago, she left the health department to continue working as a prevention educator with Cortland Prevention Resources, a division of Family & Children’s Counseling Services.

Cortland Prevention CEO Lisa Hoeschele has known Dykeman for more than two decades and said the following  upon her winning the award and joining the organization in 2017:

“Mary is the most compassionate, kind, caring and empathetic person I have ever known,” said Hoeschele. “Her leadership in assisting families as they have difficult but important conversations with their children, her creative approach to helping young people as they navigate the challenges of growing up in the digital age and her passion for bringing families together to communicate more effectively is truly inspirational.”

Dykeman is responsible for the creation of many popular youth programs in the county like Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll trivia night, “Teen Tuesday,” Zero Adolescent Pregnancy (ZAP), Lunch and Learn, and Snap Chat.

Additionally, Dykeman runs a special retreat each year aimed at helping mothers and daughters improve their communication.

One of the many students lucky enough to experience Dykeman in the classroom is WXHC’s Vinnie Bellardini, who also got to chat with her this week on a weekly FCS segment for families coping with COVID-19.


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