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After joining FCPS during a pandemic, new teachers are bright about the future of education | FFXnow

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Amelia Kerr’s first year at Fairfax County Public School was miles away from what she had imagined when she declared she wanted to be a teacher in her sixth grade yearbook.

Kindergarten teachers at Bucknell Elementary School began their educator career in the unpredictable world of September 2020. At this time, the class was limited to computers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual environments weren’t ideal, especially for restless kindergarteners, but Carr has the same level of engagement that students get directly, whether it’s creating YouTube channels or sending materials by email. I tried to encourage socializing. ..

“I had a lunch buddy to eat lunch with. In kindergarten, playtime is so important that we do a’play date’on the computer,” says Kerr. “… they were so lonely during the pandemic that they had nothing to compare with, so they were excited to meet new friends.”

Kerr did not overcome the school turmoil with a pandemic alone. Her best friend, her roommate, and the “Excellent New Elementary School Teacher” award-winning Shelby Press became a second-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School in the fall of 2020.

The press participated in the University of Mary Washington’s educational program and went online in the middle of the final semester, providing the classroom experience, tools, and flexibility needed to handle the first year. I admit.

“We are tech-savvy and very powerful about how to apply lessons, how to create them virtually, how to be fascinating, and most importantly, how to react culturally to our students. I had a background, “she told FFXnow. “Our students working at Title I schools come from different places and speak different languages. It was important to actually contact them through the camera.”

Summer class in progress at FCPS

Now in its third year at FCPS, Press and Carr are one of many teachers who support the school system’s ongoing summer learning program, which has expanded significantly over the past two years in response to a pandemic.

As of mid-July, the FCPS summer program had 33,500 students enrolled, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Cellars. Options include credit recovery and extended grade (ESY) services for students in need of academic support, as well as full-fledged activities.

It was adopted when the Press and Car program (Summer Olympian Aspire and Reach (SOAR) and Young Scholars Advanced Academic Program for elementary school students under the math and reading grades) was launched because registration was still in progress. The number of teachers was fluid. July 11th.

“But we have enough staff to prevent the general education program from being canceled,” said the seller, although the ESY program for special education students was postponed last year due to a shortage of teachers. , 98% are personnel.

Persuading exhausted educators to teach during the summer has been a challenge for many school districts this year, but Press and Kerr say their classes were relatively cold. Plus, you have to pay rent, car payments, student debt, and other payments, so no extra money is an issue.

“It’s actually very nice,” Kerr said. “We get out early, it’s only half a day, and the county offers us great lessons. It’s very relaxing and we have great kids.”

High and low education in a pandemic

But there is no mistake. Education in these first few years required a great deal of effort and created many obstacles. Press and Carr agree that the parallel model FCPS experimented with in the fall of 2020, with face-to-face and online students at the same time, was “definitely challenging.”

They also observed some gaps in students’ academic and social skills after the full face-to-face class resumed last year. Kerr said it was difficult to monitor kindergarten children’s handwriting from a computer and had to learn how to share and take turns after being quarantined for over a year.

The press saw a difference in the preparation of students with easy access to WiFi, libraries and other resources and those who did not. She says they prioritize classroom management, set clear expectations for student behavior, and at the same time try to meet children where they are.

“If I teach them at an incredibly rigorous level where none of them are, it’s not fair to them. It’s not fair to me. We’re not going to make progress,” the press said. explained. “But when I teach in a way that I feel respected by the students, they feel they can grow properly and feel safe in the learning environment. That’s when they make the most progress.”

In contrast to the mass anger raised by some parents and politicians, one thing that didn’t matter was universal masking. Press and Carr say the students were willing to wear masks and comply with other measures implemented by FCPS to limit the spread of COVID-19 because they did not want to stay in school and get sick. ..

The teacher, one of the first cohorts of Virginia citizens eligible to be vaccinated, was reassuring to the two women who were living with their parents at the time.

“My students … they took Covid very seriously,” Kerr said. “I had never experienced a Covid case in the classroom during my two years of education. They took it very seriously, and I and my colleagues did the same with masks and everything. So I was very grateful. “

Press and Kerr are as passionate about teaching and invigorating the memories and relationships they have built with their students and colleagues in the upcoming school year, which begins on August 22nd.

The press recalled that students had to drop out when last year’s school year ended on June 10.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic, but I’ve never seen children so angry on the last day of school,” she said. “… We are on summer vacation, everyone, please come”, “We don’t want to leave” … those memories, the wonderful words that our students share with us really help. We know … we know we are in the right place. We are doing the right thing now. “