By Jessica Easthope
This year for teachers across the country, the day dedicated to their hard work and passion is bittersweet.
“You don’t get the homemade cards and the sweet little trinkets they bring in for you, and you don’t get to have that bonding time in person,” said Shannon Wallace, a first grade teacher at St. Andrew Avellino Catholic Academy in Flushing, Queens.
Early on into digital learning, Shannon realized she has to switch things up.
“We still meet as a whole group like we were in the beginning, but now what I actually do is I meet with small groups every day,” Shannon explained.
This has allowed her to celebrate the small victories and see how involved parents are getting in their kids’ educations.
“They’re so dedicated to their child’s education,” Shannon said of her students’ parents. “But they get to see me as their teacher, and a little more of my teaching style.”
This is especially true for the students in Shannon’s class who have Individualized Education Programs or IEPs, like Michael DeIeso.
“There’s a virus going on and no one can be at school,” Michael explained.
Michael’s mom, Elizabeth DeIeso, has seen how much it takes to successfully learn online.
“I’ve talked to other parents, and they are now understanding what their kids’ struggles are,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth – who is also a teacher at Michael’s school – has realized how much patience she has for her class and how her kids’ teachers show them that same consideration and understanding.
“Kids have been saying, ‘I miss my teacher.’ I’m getting choked up, ‘because my teacher has more patience for me,’” Elizabeth said of the students at St. Andrew’s.
Being home with Michael, Elizabeth has seen his IEP in play, she’s even been able to use some of his speech therapy techniques.
For both Shannon and Elizabeth teaching is their calling, whether they’re in a classroom or not. It’s strengthened their faith in God and in Catholic education.
“I say, Let’s pray together,’ and tell that I’m thinking of them and God is thinking of them,” Shannon said.
“It’s important to have hope,” Elizabeth said. “Without hope, we would be lost.”