A strange year coming to end: HS teachers say seniors meshing pandemic life with classwork

Education

Teaching during a pandemic and still helping students plan for college, staff at Wheeling Park High School agree; it's been a strange year.

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – When the pandemic initially closed schools across the country, many teachers were prepared for temporary online classes, but not a whole semester.

It’s just not the same.

Jennifer Kucera-Short, School Counselor and Department Chair at WPHS

We went home on March 13 knowing we had to come up with some online plan.
So, many of us did that. We went home over the weekend, we got everything set up for that Monday…

Heidi Zumbrunnen, English Teacher and Department Chair at WPHS

Many teachers weren’t expecting that to be the last time they’d see their students. Schools quickly realized these online classes would be extensive. And if being a high school student isn’t stressful enough…

It’s very stressful. A lot of students have anxiety—are worried about their grades.

Jennifer Kucera-Short, School Counselor and Department Chair at WPHS

With life at home unknown, being there for the students is coming first, grades second.

We don’t know what’s going on at home. They might have an essential worker in their house, they may be an essential worker. They’re high school students, they work at fast food restaurants. And, they might have to be taking care of younger brothers and sisters while mom and dad are at work.

So, we give them lots of leeway. We’ve learned that due dates are mythological, and we are letting them get it done when they can get it done and we’re helping them when we can.

Heidi Zumbrunnen, English Teacher and Department Chair at WPHS

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And like the Tale of Two Cities, seniors are finding themselves relating this unprecedented life during a pandemic to that of books they’re reading in class.

A lot of them have applied their responses to the pandemic. And, they are relating to some of the characters; how they might be isolated, how they might have to live through a time where they can’t do the things they normally do.

It makes me really happy that they’re looking at the world and applying it to the literature.

Heidi Zumbrunnen, English Teacher and Department Chair at WPHS

Luckily, this pandemic hit after many seniors had their life after high school figured out, but counselors are still there to help.

Of course, we have always had our stragglers. The students who wait until the last minute who need our help in an urgent way.
We have definitely made ourselves available to them.

Jennifer Kucera-Short, School Counselor and Department Chair at WPHS

Ohio County polled their seniors on what to do with graduation and the results are in: 80 percent said they want to graduate with their peers face-to-face.

Classes will finish on-time, but graduation is now August 2. But, there have been some concerns whether all the seniors will still be around by then.

Typically we’d like to give them a big hug and shake their hand, which is really the essential pieces we’re missing as school counselors to celebrate those times with seniors.

Jennifer Kucera-Short, School Counselor and Department Chair at WPHS

I do miss them. It’s a 12th grade class. We have a lot of awesome discussions and we’re missing that face-to-face. That makes me really sad. It’s early in August so hopefully we can get them there.

Heidi Zumbrunnen, English Teacher and Department Chair at WPHS

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss