Veteran teachers soldier on despite difficult fall semester


Photo By: Alexis Perry

Mr. Luke Matthews teaches diffusion to his 3rd period economic class. This is his 26th year at Judson High School.

Following the introduction of COVID-19, Judson High School, as well as countless other educational institutions, had their spring 2020 semesters and beyond critically changed due to the need for remote learning.

Many difficulties presented themselves under these circumstances, resulting in the loss of several Judson teachers. However, in the face of these difficulties, there exists teachers, veterans of Judson High School, who continue to soldier on. 

After the spring semester, the direction in which teachers would have to take education was virtually unknown, especially to those who had been teaching the same way for many years at Judson. 

“After the spring shutdown, I really didn’t think that shutdowns or virtual learning would last.  As more businesses started opening and people returned to work, I was concerned about where children would go if school wasn’t open,” US History teacher Rory Hoxie said.

On top of the personal challenges all teachers face regarding the health risk presented by COVID-19, learning to use online systems to teach was also a necessity to continue educating.

“The biggest and most immediate challenge for teachers was learning two brand new software programs to become functional as online educators,” economics teacher Luke Matthews said. “Most of us had zero expose to Canvas nor Frontline. We had to learn these programs in a couple of weeks. Not just learn these programs, but master them. Sadly, I am still an apprentice in terms of understanding them.”

This situation not only requires learning a new teaching method through unfamiliar programs but trying to unlearn the habits developed from utilizing the programs presented in years prior.

We abandoned Google Classroom,” Matthews said. “That’s right, the program we had all learned to use over spring break was being abandoned. In its place, we had a brand new program, and it had an owner’s manual as thick as a 1st edition Gutenberg bible.”

Though having to alter the way they taught for years was challenging, other teachers were expecting an equal level of discomfort being unable to connect to their students as they had done in the many years prior. 

“I have been struggling with connecting to the students. Many days, I feel like I’m just talking to myself when on Zoom,” Hoxie said. “Very few students turn on their cameras or unmute themselves to participate. This is very different for me because I’m used to a livelier class. I also see students struggling more. They don’t have a consistent routine and only a handful of students regularly attend class. I especially notice this when I am grading assignments.”

In spite of these challenges, many weeks have passed since the start of a new academic year, allowing for staff and students to have evolved their habits and flex other forms of learning, namely remote, all for the sake of safety.

“I feel completely safe teaching at Judson. The custodians are doing a phenomenal job and this is probably the cleanest I have seen the campus. The students who are coming to campus are generally following the safety guidelines and are receptive when reminded,” Hoxie said.

With the loss of many teachers, not just within Judson or the school district, but the nation as well, it is important to recognize those teachers and staff members who accept the risks involved in being inside of a school, and continue to work hard to teach students regardless. 


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