As part of a personal project, I have been photographing a friend (or couples) every day since January 1st of this year. I haven’t done much photographically in the past year so this is one way of re-honing my skills and doing a project that I have always thought about doing. Along the line came the sudden reopening of schools, so I decided to switch to photographing my educator friends and colleagues. It’s my own minute way of telling their stories regarding the sudden return to in-person instructions in Durham Public Schools (and other districts across the country). Today, my fellow educator is a colleague at my school.

Q: What is your name?

Dawn Wright

Q: What do you teach or do in the school system and what grade do you work with?

French, grades 9-12

Q: What made you or inspired you to become an educator?

Education chose me from an early age… I was recently reminded that I always played school with cousins as a kid. My natural curiosity and love of travel also added experiences to relate the relevance of many academic subjects that students bemoan in the classroom.

Q: What is your mood like right now?

Right now, I’m fairly disconnected from the career that chose me as a steward. I don’t get to hug my students, dance in class, make treats and crafts that are so valuable in connecting with students, and project-based learning that I love. 

Q: How do you feel about the sudden return to school buildings?

While many of my students have flourished in the online format, there are many who sorely need the social connection or change of atmosphere provided within the school community. I choose to think the pressure on Administration was overwhelming in order for them to reverse the decision for year-long remote learning. This decision altered the comfort of safety for the teachers that work intimately with the possibility of infection without the comfort of continued support in the case of infection.  

Q: How do you think it impacts the students’ learning?

When they realized they aren’t REQUIRED to attend in-person classes, my students seemed relieved and encouraged for the other students. They feel safe and protected in their controlled home environment and understand that some students need to be in person for whatever reason. For high school, having the flexibility to decide their path is key to their development; however, for the younger students, the social aspect of development cannot be underestimated. For that same reason, the impact of the restrictions of social distancing may serve more as confusion and frustration when the younger students can’t fully enjoy their excitement to see their friends and teachers in person again.

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