Teacher Stories: Megan Ziegler, Lakewood Middle School, 7th Grade English
“About a week in advance, the school started prepping us, and telling us to put plans together and upload schoolwork for all of the kids to work from home. We were told to put in place 20 days’ worth of work. Some of our teachers are good with technology, but some are not, and it was a big learning curve for them. They are amazing teachers, but just not technologically inclined, so the district immediately started training with our teachers in Google classroom and Zoom using apps to record lessons. This all took place about a week before school closed.
We had to come in on Monday of last week, when a lot of districts were closed, because none of the students in Lakewood had computers. My students have no access to a computer. So the Lakewood district had to scramble to make sure every family had at least one Chromebook per family; and on top of that, our district has to provide meals. Many of our students come from Title I homes, and they don’t have breakfast or lunch every day, and the schools provide their meals. This presented an extra challenge for our district, as they had to figure out how to get meals to the students who would not be coming to school for their meals. We have had many teachers and para-professionals who have been showing up and volunteering their time just to make sure the kids are fed. So we have cafeteria workers who are now delivering meals, some of them in hazmat suits, to bus stops, where kids are waiting to get their meals.
I am so thankful to Lakewood, because they did not put me in danger in the middle of all of this. I have two family members who are medically compromised and the school actually contacted me and said, ‘Your family comes first,’ and I did not have to come in that Monday. And this blessed me. This is the story that is not getting told about Lakewood. All the good things they are doing to help others.
People don’t realize that for a lot of students, school is the only time that a lot of these kids have any kind of structure. So this was a huge upheaval for a lot of my students who look forward to coming to school every day and seeing their teachers. We are like family to them, and them to us. But last Tuesday we hit the grounds running, and we did it. It went great.
I miss my students. I worry about them. It is difficult going so quickly, because we didn’t have a transition point where we could have closure with the kids where we could talk to them about this and fully prepare them. We are doing our best to keep morale up for the students. Next week is spirit week, and even though it is online, all the teachers are going to be video recording themselves and showing spirit, and the kid will be able to participate, too. We will still have a community. Keeping the students’ spirits up is paramount. It’s my top priority. I love my students, and I miss them, and their school system is still here for them. No matter what happens in the world, we teachers are not going anywhere.”
Interview and photo by Gregory Andrus.