Message from the Superintendent
Teacher Appreciation Week 2020
Each year around this time, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week to acknowledge the hard work and compassionate care that our educators provide for our students. This year, more than ever, I am so proud of our teachers for rising to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 closure of our school campuses. They have adapted to adversity to accommodate new teaching and learning environments and demonstrated tireless resilience to continue to support the social, emotional, and educational journey of our students.
A few examples that have been shared with me that are a testament to the dedication our teachers have to help students thrive during remote learning.
Orange Pre-K and Canyon Hills teachers have created enrichment activities for parents to utilize at home in conjunction with the lessons, videos, activities, and Google sessions for their students. These hands-on activities allow for hands-on experiences that supplement the digital learning resources and provide enrichment for verbal, visual, fine, and gross motor skills.
Education Specialist Annmarie Bowers has jumped right into distance learning with creativity and a positive attitude. She connects with students daily through SeeSaw, Blackboard Collaborate, and Google Classroom. All her students benefit from the variety of resources Mrs. Bowers utilizes, including Read Naturally Live, Overdrive, Read Works, Newsela and Wonders online curriculum. She also creates virtual read-alouds for students, as so many of our other staff members have been making available to students on social media and through digital classroom environments, which is such a wonderful thing to see.
At Fletcher Elementary, second-year temporary teacher Ashley Chang connected with a family who was having challenges with distance learning since the parents are both essential workers. Mrs. Chang reached out to let the family know about the online resources to help support their first-grade student’s learning and began a weekend virtual meeting so that the student could connect with her peers. Mrs. Chang is caring for young and elderly family members at home, yet has decided to give more of herself and her personal time to help her students feel connected and cared for.
Education Specialist Sarah Dalton and her students switched to Distance Learning without skipping a beat and picked up virtually right where they left off in person. Her students continue to participate in multi-sensory reading strategies and work daily on expanding their decoding skills and building vocabulary knowledge, fluency and reading comprehension skills.
At Portola Middle School, art teacher and mural director Rick Blake has created interactive lessons that keep students engaged and connected. He adapts projects to maximize equity for students, allowing them to use the tools and means available to them. His live lessons are also recorded in the case that students cannot attend and provide students the opportunity for equitable access. Mr. Blake has upped his game and has also created a Portola Art Instagram to display student art and keep students excited about the works they are creating. Mr. Blake is a shining example of the exemplary impact teachers are making during this time by providing a safe place for students to learn and be connected while also needing to care for their own children.
During this opportunity to innovate the way we facilitate student learning, the importance of building strong relationships and supporting socioemotional learning has come to the forefront, and I thank our teachers for rising to the occasion. I know that this is a difficult situation to manage, with living spaces transformed into classrooms and childcare and other obligations adding additional stress and tasks to everyone’s workloads.
Our quick districtwide migration to online coursework and ongoing supports we’ve been providing to families have not gone unnoticed, and it is because of the dedication and commitment of our teachers that we were able to implement distance learning so quickly. I am happy to share that we currently have 98% of our students connected and participating in online learning.
Please join me in celebrating our teachers this week and thanking them for their extraordinary efforts to support our students. I invite you to share your inspiring stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gunn Marie Hansen, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Orange Unified School District
Our teachers are modeling the traits that we hope to instill in our students, specifically grit, adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.