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Pandemic Academics: Teaching in 2020

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(WBNG) -- Over the last eight months, teachers have been leading students through an unprecedented time. 12 News sat down with educators from different grade levels in the Windsor and Owego Apalachin school districts to hear how they have responded in a school year of uncertainty.

The teachers say one of the toughest days was when schools shutdown and they had to quickly learn how to teach students remotely. It was difficult for the teachers on the technological side by also emotionally.

Randi Silvernail, who teaches at Floyd L. Bell Elementary, says, "I think about that day often because it was an emotional day. I had said to my kindergartners have a great weekend I'll see you soon. Then Monday never came. So it was emotional, but we didn't have time to think twice. Those kids are our world and we had to step into action."

Windsor High School teacher, Scott Symons says making sure all students could connect to wifi for remote learning was a huge challenge, but he saw his district get hot spots for kids and connect them within weeks.

Owego High School teacher Laura Riley said all the challenges has pushed her to become a better teacher.

"I really had to dig deep and find new ways to do stuff I've been doing for twelve years. It's the same curriculum but its in a totally different way. I only think about how can I improve and reach everyone.", Riley said.

C. R. Weeks Elementary teacher Lindsey Hendricks says she communicates with her students and parents about more than academics. Hendricks says she has open conversations with students about how they are doing.

Lorri Mars, an elementary teacher in the Owego School District, commented that more than ever parents are an extension of teachers. Mars and the rest of the teachers agreed that a silver lining is how relationships with parents have improved.

In September, when students returned to school, educators were mastering how to juggle teaching students that were at home and in-person. Trevor Mccloy, a teacher at Owego Central School district said his set up was messy at first, but now it's very smooth.

At the same time, teachers have been working to everyone safe. Hendricks says its her personal goal everyday to do her part to give respect and take steps to keep her students, colleagues, family, and herself healthy.

All the teachers 12 News spoke with were impressed with how students and teachers have responded to a difficult situation.

Stephanie Reardon, an elementary teacher in the Owego Apalachin Central School District says, "being a teacher is allowing us to see the best versions of ourselves, our colleagues, and our kids."

Overall both groups of teachers agreed, that the last eight months has given them a greater appreciation and respect for their colleagues and their profession.

"Everyone has stepped up to do what's best for children. I am beyond proud to work with the people that I do." says Lorri Mars.

Michelle Roberts

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