Bangor teacher embracing technology to keep students on track

Social distancing closed school buildings, but school is still in session at home

BANGOR, Wis. (WKBT) – Kitchens, living-rooms, and bedrooms are now classrooms for students. Social distancing is a challenge for everyone involved with schoolwork.

When we are in school most of us can’t wait for summer vacation to begin. Ironically today, school is where many children want to be.

“It’s like house arrest and you are just trapped in your house,” said Lexi McKenna, a seventh-grader at Bangor Middle School.

Bangor Middle School teacher Michelle Harper misses the old routine.

“I start my day a little bit later with my cup of coffee,” Harper said, “I am starting doing an assignment notebook like I normally do in my resource hour.”

The school building is closed but learning must go on. The problem is navigating their way to students without being in the same home.

“Just not seeing them right now is a hard thing,” Harper said.

McKenna is like many students who learn at a different pace. Assignments can at times be more difficult.

“As a special educator it’s really difficult because I am normally sitting there one-on-one with a lot of my students doing a lot of their work with them,” Harper said.

Most students can relate to McKenna’s experience being away from school.

“It’s hard not seeing teachers in person and my friends,” McKenna said. “It’s just hard.”

Parents like McKenna’s mom Michelle Gilson have to try to answer their child’s questions about assignments.

“There’s things today that I don’t understand,” she said.

Harper is not shying away from this test.

“I have really tried to talk to my parents as much as possible through this time via email, via text, being a really big sometimes pain to some of them,” she said. “Hopefully not too much.”

Her effort is keeping students like McKenna on track.

“I kind of wish she could come over here and helped me besides email,” she said.

Gilson said Harper has made this time a lot smoother.

“I just think she’s a phenomenal teacher,” Gilson said.

The lessons learned during this process help people discover who they are.

“You’re going to have to get up and motivate yourself to do these kinds of things on your own,” Harper said.

This isn’t fair, but Harper said we learn to appreciate what we have.

“This importance of family and this importance of, less is is more right now,” Harper said. “I think that’s a big thing.”

That is real education. It’s a connection powered by teachers who accept their calling no matter the circumstance.

“We’ll get through it day by day,” Gilson said. “One day at a time.”