HIDDEN HEROES: OUR TEACHERS IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
As schools across the country reopen for the new school year, all are faced with the challenges presented in light of COVID-19, in particular, teachers. For our teachers in Beaumont and the surrounding areas, this is no less true.
Throughout all of this change and uncertainty, heavy expectations seem to have fallen on teachers to keep their classes safe, teach on two separate fronts (online and in person), and adjust to a new, constantly changing way of doing things. “It’s been a little overwhelming,” remarked Mrs. Kellie Daniel, a special ed teacher at East Chambers Elementary School.
After schools closed and transferred to online last spring, there was concern as to how much the students learned their final quarter. “We couldn’t keep the kids accountable,” observed Mrs. Parvin Yazdi, a science teacher at Hardin Jefferson High School. Mrs. Daniel echoed this sentiment, saying, “We didn’t really track down kids…. It was hard to hold them accountable if their parents had just gotten laid off.”
Still, all in all, teachers adjusted very well, in some cases learning an immense amount about technology and new teaching methods in a very short amount of time. “We did the best we could,” Mrs. Yazdi reflected, “I had to learn a lot of things…. I would be asking my students, ‘Hey, how do I do this?’”
In wake of this, schools in this area are striving to develop a more structured online approach. “It’s going to be tougher than the spring,” predicts Mrs. Yazdi, “We’re all going to be busier than before.” For schools that give families the option of either returning to campus or staying at home, including both East Chambers and Hardin Jefferson, teachers will now be teaching at two different levels. In the words of Mrs. Yazdi, “Where I had four classes before, I now feel like I have eight.”
Conducting dual classes aside, each teacher faces a unique set of challenges. From managing the inevitably unsanitary nature of a child with cerebral palsy to figuring out how to effectuate labs virtually, their efforts reflect the very best of humanity’s persistence in the face of this pandemic.
In spite of these hurdles, both Mrs. Daniel and Mrs. Yazdi said they felt the optional return policy was the best solution and expressed optimism for the future. “I’m excited to be going back,” Mrs. Daniel said with a smile.
Similar optimism is felt in the Kelly community, where the transition to online school in the spring was somewhat smoother and more effective, due, in part, to both the smaller scale of outreach and prior reliance on technology in the classroom. Though the inevitable challenges ahead are just as prevalent for Kelly’s teachers, the amount of care put into the reopening process, entailing a fair amount of work from teachers, promises to be as safe and prudent as possible. In the words of Mrs. Gina Harris, “It will all be worth it to be together again.”
In light of all this, it is fair to say that teachers in our area have taken on their new and formidable roles with grace, actively making it possible for students to get the education that will define our communities in the years to come.