VERONA, NJ - Corisa Walker, the librarian at F.N. Brown Elementary, was devastated. Teachers and other school personnel had just been informed that the two week school closures would likely go on indefinitely. “Teaching is such a human and interactive art,” she said. “It’s incredibly hard to do it without our little people in front of us. We are all struggling with not seeing our kids. We love them and we miss them so much.”
The teachers had already scrambled to send children home with materials and lessons so that they wouldn’t fall behind. Now they were being asked to extend the at-home learning for weeks with no end in sight. Each was committed to making sure students understood, as school Superintendent Rui Dinisio said, that “School is not closed. It just looks a little different right now.”
Walker thought that with academics covered, teachers could also connect with students on an emotional level. “The core of a teacher's heart is love,” she said. “We do everything we do out of pure love for our students.” She decided to reach out to teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, custodians, and administrative assistants (all the adults that a student might see during the school day) and ask them to share an inspiring message to students. Over 100 school workers responded with messages of hope.
Walker then compiled them into a video set to music, which was sent to all parents on Friday, March 27. “I am completely in awe and inspired by the work I am seeing teachers doing every day to maintain instruction and normalcy for our kids,” she said. “I hope the kids see that our teachers are here for them. They may not see us every day but we are there. Probably even more so. Teachers are working around the clock to plan and figure out the best way to do this and how to make kids thrive in such an unknown environment. We want kids to feel our presence in their daily lives even when we are apart.”
As Rui Dinisio wrote, “The strength of Verona is evident by the solidarity and commitment of our entire community. We will inevitably face challenges along the way, but our Verona teachers and staff stand with our students and their families.”
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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