HOLLISTER Mo. (KY3) – Students have been back to class for a few months now, facing new challenges during the pandemic.
However, so are their teachers.
That’s why Hollister School District leaders are working to make sure teachers have everything they need to teach effectively, no matter the circumstances.
“Just to say ‘Hey, we appreciate you,’” Hollister Early Childhood Center Principal Mark Waugh said. “This time requires us to be creative, dedicated, and make our teachers a priority.”
Waugh says they give teachers daily encouragement and small gifts of appreciation to encourage them during an unusally difficult school year. District leaders say they understand that being an educator during a pandemic comes with challenges.
“They’re making sure that their students are maintaining social distancing. They’re doing extra cleaning and sanitization of their classrooms. They’re making sure their students are wearing their masks,” Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Sandy Leech said.
Despite the extra work, teachers say support helps.
“We walk in and we get a ‘Hi, how are you?’ They care about or personal life and the professional,” First Grade Teacher Whitney Wrast said.
Wrast says while COVID precautions come with extra work, they’re not asked to do double-duty. The district has hired another company to provide online teaching for virtual students.
“What we as a district chose to do was to contract with a company to take care of our virtual learning,” Leech said.
“We are already overwhelmed with the other stuff. I can’t imagine putting that on our shoulders,” Wrast said.
However, it’s not only while they’re at school that the district wants the teachers to know they’re supported.
“Focus that goal on self-care because that’s really, really needed this year and really, really important,” Leech said.
Teachers have extra, build-in days off to allow them to focus on themselves.
“They know they’ve got to take care of the teachers first so we can take care of the students,” Wrast said.
Teachers can also access off-site mental health care, for free.
“They do have the option to have a free counseling session with Burrell,” Leech said.
Teachers and administrators agree that keeping school a happy place is helping kids and teachers meet the challenges of a very different school year.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. So you have to take care of yourself before you have the ability to take care of others,” Leech said.
“We have so much support,” Wrast said. “That is what we need right now.”
From the beginning of the year teachers in Hollister have been allowed to wear jeans and scrubs to work. They also offer virtual assemblies so students and teachers still feel a part of the school as a whole.
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