West Salem teacher keeping first-graders on track between online a virtual school days

First-grade teaches students important skills necessary for success beyond the classroom, Chris Antony helps make it possible
Learning together

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) – The skills people learn in elementary school shape the people they become as adults. Virtual learning creates a lot of roadblocks for students learning how to read and write. No amount of experience could prepare West Salem’s Chris Antony for the past year.

“I have been in our district for 22 years,” Antony said. “I wasn’t even sure I could do it because technology is not my forte.”

West Salem Elementary started the school year online, came back for four weeks, and went back online again.

“It’s a roller coaster ride,” she said. “…all hands-on deck.”

Now the routine they’d prefer is back, again.

“First-grade is the foundation,” Antony said.

Reading, writing, math. Think about a person’s daily life. They can bet their bottom dollar they will check all three boxes by the end of the day.

“We need to build that foundation in first grade for them to be successful,” Antony said.

Exercise with physical education forms healthy habits, and relationships blossom better, in-person. The same is true with the skills, Mrs. Antony teaches.

“Six and seven-year-olds need their friends,” she said. “For first graders, they need those books in their hand.”

Antony and her students made the most of their time together through a lens online.

“To have that 15, 20 minutes of uninterrupted one on one time to work with the child to read, it was actually a gift,” she said.

However, Antony will not trade the classroom for the chatroom. There is just something about learning together, face to face.

“It was just like so hard,” she said. “There was a piece of my heart missing, you know? Cause, this is everything to me.”

It does take a community to teach children.

“We’re doing it,” Antony said. “We have a great support system.”

That’s how the foundations of future community members are still intact no matter the format of their school day.

“We’re all at the same level again we’re all at the same place,” Antony said.

Antony said her students don’t want to leave when the school day is over. Something she always wanted to hear as a teacher.