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Follow the teachers: Reflecting on this past school year in San Diego

Ms. Martin and student
empty classroom
Posted at 11:35 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 10:36:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As the school year ends across the county, teachers are reflecting on the unprecedented year.

ABC 10News has been following several teachers throughout the school year as they navigated the pandemic.

Dawn Harrison teaches first graders in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “How am I going to teach 6-year-olds to read via a computer?” she said during an interview in July 2020.

Kelly Martin, a sixth grade teacher in the same district, also had concerns about starting the school year virtually. “Nobody wants to turn their camera on. No one wants to talk in front of anyone,” she said last summer.

In April, the school district transitioned to a hybrid AM/PM schedule.

“I was nervous that it would be harder to transition back,” Martin said. “But I guess it was like riding a bike.”

She realized how much she missed the noise of the classroom. “I missed all the conversation and the chatter and it was so nice to be back in person and be able to have those conversations and see them talking to each other,” Martin said.

Martin also realized how tall some of her students were seeing them in “real life.”

“So many of our sixth graders were as tall or taller than me!” she said.

“[There was] so much trepidation at the beginning of the year,” Harrison said. “Looking back, I just still can't believe that it's over.”

Harrison’s husband, Rick Meads, is a teacher at Eastlake High School. He teaches digital arts, drama, and theater. He said there were many challenges in some of his classes.

“The toughest ones, honestly, were drama and theater because that's such a collaborative process,” Meads said. “We did some really fun things and creative things, but it's tough. It's tough to do theater online.”

Like all of us, Meads adapted. The teachers understand the frustration from families this past year, but they said they are looking forward to teaching the students in-person and full-time once again.

“I think everybody did the best they could with the knowledge that we had to do the job we were supposed to do,” Meads said.

“We made it. We rode this ‘coronacoaster.’ We did it with style,” Harrison added. “Your children were amazing as they work through all those hurdles and obstacles and I cannot say enough thanks to the parents who stepped up.”

Martin said this past year has taught her students lessons beyond the classroom. “We learned a lot of life skills that I think this generation is going to be the better for it,” Martin said.