Their influence is profound in so many ways. They invest their time so wholeheartedly, to ensure the next generation is equipped to fully embrace society in the best of ways. After all, teachers fully understand the magnificent responsibility they have to ensuring a secure and happy future for all. Failure from students is not an option for teachers who have dedicated their lives to kids, it is their life’s calling to make a difference in how their students view learning, and ultimately the world as a whole. Minds are shaped in the classroom every single day by impassioned teachers and staff who see the worth in every student who crosses their path.
Throughout the past two years, education met unprecedented challenges, for students and teachers. The demands that infiltrate a teaching career are difficult in even the best of times. This is not a career for the faint of heart. The education field takes a delicate, yet, firm type of personality to be effective for future generations to excel. I interviewed some phenomenal teachers, who graciously gave me their time to understanding a bit more the current educational environment. How do I know these particular teachers are authentic and acting in the best interest of our children? This is simple, because I have been a paraprofessional in each of their classes day in and day out observing their methods and real devotion to every student that crosses their path.
Views from the Counselor
Deanna Othites is the Junior High School Counselor at Shenango High School, in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Othites has been employed by this district for 13 years, starting as a math teacher. In a career shift, she decided to assist students in the role of counselor, so she could help guide them to successful class scheduling. Otheitis stated that she, “wants to be a fixer.” She also went on to say that, “I’ve always wanted to be in a helping position.” These attributes definitely fit the mold for a counselor for the next generation. During the burdensome time that Covid-19 brought to schools, one has to wonder how the effects of this pandemic have played out academically speaking. After all, we have never faced a Global Pandemic in our lifetime, and this one literally brought the world to its proverbial knees. When discussing the acclimation back into the classroom, Othetis stated that, “staff and students had a hard adjustment coming back from disconnection.” Othetis was focused on her concern about increased depression in both staff and students. However, there were perks regarding remote learning according to Othetis as she stated that, “both students and teachers increased their tech knowledge.” This was due to the fact that they had to navigate through multiple websites and different programs, to present and receive necessary learning material. Looking at this viewpoint is definitely a welcoming thought, and will serve all involved well, going into the ever changing world of technology.
Glimpse into the Social Studies Classroom
Kaitlin Schuster is a Social Studies and Psychology teacher at Shenango High School. Schuster has taught in this district for ten years. From day one, Schuster made things very clear to her students how important history is to our lives. When taught accurately and through a facts only approach, it is Schuster’s goal to implement, “an application of knowledge, I hope it impacts the way they think more critically and reflective.” Schuster’s teaching style is effective as she draws a correlation between each unit she is presenting, with current events going on. Schuster understands the significance of the fate of our nation’s (and world’s) future, to truly learn from our past. Her knowledge base far exceeds expectation during every class period, as she answers questions about concerns and, always provides appropriate and accurate historical context. One difficulty Schuster recognized during online learning, was that, “some students shut down too much.” However, Schuster is optimistic about her student’s ability to refocus and excel in their studies, even when recovering from such a formidable pandemic period. Schuster stated that, “kids are resilient and successful at growth when given the support.” The commitment to infusing each lesson with truth is a definite inspiring gift this particular teacher possesses.
The Dedication of a Health Teacher
Immense time and effort are put into the daily grind as a teacher. Those who are led into this profession, truly strive to build a stronger next generation. Lisa Hall has been such a teacher for the past 26 years. Ms. Hall is currently the Health teacher at Shenango Area High School. Hall spends her time ensuring the most essential topics are covered, to educate students in proper healthy lifestyle choices. Hall faced tremendous pressure, along with teachers across the globe during the Covid pandemic, with fortitude and a non-defeatist mindset. This steadfast course of action set a precedence for overcoming the odds, to bring focus back onto the importance of learning.
Hall stated that teachers have “three loves,” which include, “the love of learning, the love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two together.” The way in which a teacher approaches their students during every class is an essential element to the student’s success. One way to ensure a positive reciprocal relationship between student and teacher is to, “ take time to build classroom community. Never make assumptions about what students know or should know, and stay as organized as possible,” stated Hall. The idea of being gentle; yet, assertive for students to learn about putting their all into every task, is what one experiences in each class with Ms. Hall.
Enhancing Special Education For All
Vicki Carbone is the true embodiment of who a Special Education Teacher should be. The last ten years of her life have been dedicated to her students’ growth. This innate passion shows through every day, as she works tirelessly to ensure each student has the most effective education plan to fit their needs. Many hours are poured into effective planning for Learning Support students, to increase their chances for success. This responsibility is fully embraced by Carbone on a consistent basis.
Looking at the past two years in the schools, (through the eyes of a teacher) is a bit stressful. In addition to the already extensive workload that Carbone faces, when Covid exploded on a global scale, Carbone had to take everything she does in the classroom and go virtual with it. To some, that may seem like no big deal; however, taking into account the convenience of a classroom cannot be emphasized enough. The pivot to all virtual learning at a moment’s notice, presented difficult challenges that surpassed simply assigning work and grading papers. “We were all learning on the fly,” stated Carbone. Carbone went on to say that, “engagement was huge, difficult to get students involved in online learning, it felt like a lot of confusion.” This is consistent with the fact that there was limited time to organize and implement through online learning.
Carbone is a teacher who believes wholeheartedly in her student’s potential. Carbone exhibits a genuine desire to see every student reach the best version of themselves. Carbone understands the pressures students have on them and stated, “that’s where I try to step in and show compassion.” This is a teacher one can aspire to be, maybe then more lives will be changed through the efforts of an educator.
The Lasting Impression of an Educator
The sheer weight on a teacher’s shoulders to effect positive change in their students is something many are not built to carry. As stated earlier in this article, all of the teacher’s represented are written from the perspective of my paraprofessional experiences. The truth is that these individuals, and all others in this career field are not recognized enough. Yet, that does not hold value to any of them. They are making a lasting permanent mark on society that will have a ripple effect for lifetimes to come.