TRAILBAZERS OF THE MONTH
We are pleased to share our Trailblazer of the Month….
instead of a single person, we are recognizing the collective group of all local Teachers in our community.
Teachers have always been special people in the lives of our children, and 2020 has created incredible challenges in our schools. Teachers have been on the front lines during the pandemic, providing much appreciated educational and social normalcy for students.
Time and time again, we have seen teachers use the pandemic to shine at what teachers do best, educating students in both face to face and remote learning environments during the pandemic.
Sometimes we have to look back down the path we have traveled to truly appreciate where we are today and the future ahead of us!
Initial Pandemic Crisis Response
When schools shut down with only a day’s notice, local school districts, teachers, and students had to make the difficult overnight transition to online learning. Teachers adjusted lesson planning, instructional practices, academic expectations, and assessments and grading to balance the need to continue teaching and learning at high levels with the reality of the challenges faced by students and families sheltering in place at home.
A Bold Step Forward to Open Schools
Some schools districts, like Cherokee County School District (CCSD), made the bold move to open on time for the new school year, giving parents a choice of a traditional in-person school environment with significant operational changes to improve safety for students and staff, or a digital learning system designed to provide greater instruction than the crisis response in the spring. Teachers have been creative and flexible throughout these changes, navigating a new world in a safe way, supporting our students and families.
Investing in the Safety of the Community
Many districts spent money to protect the safety of teachers and students alike. For example, the CCSD has invested more than $8 Million so far (2x what was originally planned) to carry out the Reopening of School Plan, including items such as:
- Upgrading 59,000 HVAC air filters to the highest level possible, MERV 13
- Installing plexiglass in fixed high-traffic locations
- Providing teachers/staff with reusable masks & face shields
- Providing staff in specific jobs (like nursing) personal protective equipment
- Increasing custodial staffing to sanitize high-touch areas & deep clean after hours
- Replacing water fountains with water bottle-filling stations
- Providing classrooms with food-safe, quick-drying surface cleaner & hand sanitizer
- Providing students with reusable masks
Virtual Learning Gains Followers
Teachers and students have participated successfully in both virtual and face to face learning environments in 2020. Innovations and improved practices have focused on providing the best possible educational services to each child, depending on what fits each student best.
The experience of teachers delivering educational services virtually, and the positive response from parents to this option for additional academic choice, has led many districts to initiate planning a permanent solution, CCSD has plans for Virtual Academy initially for Grades 9-12 targeted to open next school year.
“Our teachers worked a miracle in the spring when they transformed instruction overnight and found new ways to stay connected with their students and build positive relationships. They have shown that same dedication, commitment and care this school year as we re-opened schools with new protocols and launched a new online education program. I love that John Maxwell quote, ‘Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ Our teachers care – they care a whole lot – and that is what has made the difference for our students’ learning, whether they’re attending classes in-person or online.” – Dr. Brian Hightower, CCSD Superintendent
Inspiring Stories Make The Efforts Worth It
“One of my favorites was an email from a parent who during our spring school closures saw a teacher, whose power had been knocked out by a storm, working from her car in a parking lot to ensure her students had their lessons that day. That’s going the extra mile – literally.” – Dr. Brian Hightower, CCSD Superintendent
Cobb County says “This year has been challenging, but our teachers have quickly adapted, collaborated, and mastered new technology to ensure that students are “Learning Everywhere.”
Cobb also published a website showcasing “Learning Everywhere“
“Although I am exhausted, it was well worth it. The children were beaming and so excited to be back! There are opinions everywhere, but the proof was this week. I don’t know if we will make it two months or two weeks, but it’s been worth it!’ Now it’s been four months — it’s been incredibly challenging for our teachers and our community as a whole, but it’s definitely been worth it for our kids.” – Local Teacher in a note to CCSD Superintendent