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The Current

Grateful Bruins recognize dedicated staff members

With the rise of COVID-19, staff members, including Spanish Teacher Shawn Mason, have dedicated countless hours to ensure that students have the resources they need to be successful this school year. Photo by Maya Bussinger

The Bruin staff have become some of the many unsung heroes in our community as they have kept some normalcy and stability within students’ daily classes that are otherwise lacking in both.

The commitment and love for students shown by the staff has become blatantly obvious over the course of these last fews months with teachers learning how to coordinate and engage students in Zoom classes, the custodial staff sanitizing every corner of the campus daily, and the lunch staff having to reconfigure their entire system to accommodate the needs of the student body.

Bear River Principal Christopher Roberts commented on how well the teaching staff adapted to Zoom classes.

“After last Spring’s distance learning, the teachers knew that they needed to do something different to engage the students and provide them with a quality education despite doing so online instead of in person,” he said. “Most all of them worked through the summer to come up with new ideas and new approaches to teaching their students online, something they hadn’t been trained for or prepared for. Many of them went out and purchased, with their own money, classroom technology to improve their instruction and give students a unique learning experience. Some of them took virtual classes and virtual conferences about how to engage students online … This was new for them and they embraced it and made it happen.”

Senior Emily Telles identified the difficulties of distance learning.

“For starters, the whole Zoom transition: I think it would be really hard as a staff member to transfer from in-person learning to going on a Zoom [meeting] and being online,” she said. “Especially for some of them, I know they’re not super good with technology … So, going from in-person to Zoom I think would be really difficult. I think they did a really good job doing that. It shows that they care for sure.”

Principal Roberts shed light on the teachers’ ability to overcome challenges of the even newer hybrid model.

“With the hybrid model in place, teachers are teaching in-person students and distance learning students (online) at the same time,” he said. “In comparison, it’s like juggling bowling balls and flaming torches simultaneously! I’ve had the opportunity to get into classes to observe this in action. Despite the difficulty, teachers are doing an amazing job delivering their curriculum using these methods that a little less than a year ago they had never done! I have been so impressed at what the teachers have been able to do in a short amount of time to make this work for all their students, those in person and those online. Teachers are constantly fine tuning their…teaching strategies to meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of their students. It’s commonplace to see teachers here long into the night and on weekends working away in their classroom grading papers, preparing in-person and virtual lessons for the next day and finding new ways to engage students!”

Junior Mariah Lynda Crandall said that she appreciates the level of organization online class has.

“[The staff] has gone through a lot of courses to organize online even though that’s not their area of expertise,” she said. “…Mrs. [Jennifer] Weir does a really good job of organizing everything so that you can understand specifically what you have due and what’s going on.”

Fellow Junior Jake Van Bourgondien expressed gratitude for the extra hours teachers have put into lesson planning, office hours, and more.

“I’d say that some of my teachers are putting a lot of home hours into teaching kids, and that’s pretty impressive,” he said. “I’m not that committed to school, but they’re taking kids under their wing that are struggling.”

Van Bourgondien pointed out some specific staff members that he felt had gone above and beyond for their students.

“Mrs. [Kara] Scheitlin, from PreCalc, is putting in a lot of hours,” he said. “Señor [Shawn] Mason is always good just because he’s Señor Mason and nice and stuff like that.”

Principal Roberts acknowledged that the rest of the staff has also had to adjust to a new schedule.

“Our maintenance and custodial staff have been deep cleaning everything and, along with all their regular responsibilities, have added COVID protocol to their daily routine,” he said. “Our office staff, including our counselors, have taken on additional work with COVID protocol and other COVID related issues. All this along with all their other responsibilities. With things changing daily, they’re constantly forced to shift their directions and sometimes entirely scrap what they’ve been working on.”

He continued, mentioning a couple more staff departments who also went above and beyond.

“The cafeteria staff had to completely shift the way they were doing things and started providing lunches and breakfasts to all students for free!” he said. “This was a huge change to what they were doing before. Our librarians…have had to figure out how to get textbooks, library books, Chromebooks, etcetera to students who aren’t on campus. They’ve had to think outside the box to get done what they need to get done for kids. And then there’s Ms. [Cathy] Peterson and Mrs. [Nanci] Smith! They have been here almost every day since last March constantly working to support students who are struggling academically, having issues with internet connection, and struggling emotionally with the pandemic.”

These staff members are on a mission to improve the education of each and every Bruin on and off campus.

“As with the teachers, every staff member has made these adjustments and changes and done so with a smile on their face and care in their hearts for the students!” said Principal Roberts. ” … Some might say it’s their job, but what these teachers and staff have done to support students, while dealing with all the pandemic has thrown their way personally (with their own families), is absolutely above and beyond. I’m in awe of these people!”

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Grateful Bruins recognize dedicated staff members