You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you sure can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. Ever resourceful, Saint Rose education alums are reaching out to their students and their families to ensure that they’re learning and have everything they need.
As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to share with you the creative ways education alums have adapted to remote operations in the COVID-19 world.
Kyle Albano, ’12, G’16, music industry, music education
Music technology teacher, Albany High School, Albany, New York
I am currently in my second graduate program for my Master of Science in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology and a certificate in online learning and teaching. I have been using what I have learned via my schooling and applying it to my newly developed distance-education courses. Using Google Classroom, I am able to connect with my students. This is where I can share PDFs, virtual music technology, and small, fun assignments/instruction that include self-evaluations.
Rhina Allende ’18, social studies: adolescent education
Special education teacher, Mastery Charter Schools, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Here in Philadelphia, we’ve had three phases of home academic practice.
Initially, we had students practicing using academic apps like Khan Academy and CommonLit and calling us if they had questions.
Once we realized that we were going to be in this for a longer time period, each teacher was assigned 10 to 15 families to check in with and assist as we mailed out packets for students. In addition to mailing out packets, each teacher surveyed each family in their assigned group, and we supplied families with WiFi and Chromebooks so that they could access work in phase three. We also began giving out food to families twice a week.
Now, we are in phase three, which is teaching full lessons using Zoom or pre-recording lectures and giving a combination of virtual assignments and assignments from the packet they have at home. I teach special education, so the hardest part has been finding resources that can best accommodate my students virtually without them feeling like babies. (I teach middle and high school.)
Teresa Brown G’07 school building leader, school district leader
Principal, Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST), Albany, New York
Sara Gonsiewski ’06, G’08, childhood education, special education grades 1-6
First-grade teacher, TOAST
Katie Stalker G’96, special education
Assistant principal, TOAST
With the school closure, we were in a position where we were trying to think about how we could stay connected with our students and families.
Teachers were texting and emailing ideas to us. Katie had created “Smore” newsletters in the past, and we discussed how this would be a good and easy media to use to connect with students and families daily.
Katie set up an office hour to discuss ideas with staff and created a shared Google document for teachers and staff to record their ideas. From there, we worked with a small group of teachers who had shown interest in this project from the start.
We thought that using the daily announcement routine Teresa had created for regular school days would help to give everyone a sense of normalcy and begin to build our online school culture. Teresa’s daily announcements include the Pledge of Allegiance, the vision and mission statements, a mindful moment, and any special announcements of the day.
Although our teachers and staff shared many worthwhile ideas with us, we decided to keep it simple for now. As a team, we decided to use the ideas of a “joke of the day” video and a “mystery reader of the day” video.
We have a shared Google Doc where staff members copy and paste their video links and Katie retrieves them to upload into our newsletter.
Next week, we plan to create more opportunities for student voice and involvement in our daily newsletter.
One of our first-grade teachers, Sara Gonsiewski, is a go-to tech wizard, who puts together the combined daily announcement video and audio recordings from different staff members into Teresa’s daily announcement video.
This is how our daily Smore newsletter came about, The Daily TOAST!
Anne Carroll ’96, G’98, chemistry adolescence education, teacher education
Chemistry teacher, Albany High School, Albany, New York
I have been working hard to develop engaging, exciting learning opportunities for the students. I am spending countless hours attending technology meetings, meeting with my science supervisor, and collaborating with my colleagues. Although I am excited for the day I resume face-to-face, valuable instruction with my students, I am determined to meet their needs any way possible. Google Meet has given my students and me an opportunity to reconnect and discuss our plans to move forward with our curriculum.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
Jodi Commerford ’99, G’08, elementary education: pre-K-6, school district leader, school building leader
Principal, Albany High School
As principal of Albany High School, I am working remotely utilizing three screens with my exercise ball chair. I am working virtually with our leadership team to provide support to our students, families, and staff daily. We are sharing instructional resources to our students at a fast pace to ensure learning is occurring.
Salvatore De Angelo, Jr. G’08, school building leader, school district leader
Superintendent, Chatham School District, Chatham, New York
In Chatham, we have pulled out all of the stops. We are using everything from Google Meet to traditional phone calls with students to ensure we provide the most practical approach regarding a continuity of learning program.
Of course, like many districts, our biggest concern is with the physical, emotional, and mental health of our students and their families. We cannot underestimate this aspect given these unprecedented circumstances.
Here is a screenshot of an office staff meeting using Zoom.
Deborah Cronin ’95, art education
Art specialist, Albany High School, Albany, New York
We are using google classroom as a platform for getting lessons out to students. It is a very flexible and easy program to use, I enjoy it. I am getting used to the ins and outs of experiencing this style of learning, although I do miss school, and I miss my students. I have been checking in with them regularly as they send in their completed work whether it be questions or assignments. I like the variety of learning that is available via technology.
Erica Cubello ’09, art education, studio art
Visual arts teacher, William S. Hackett Middle School
Over these past few weeks, I have been connecting with my students and families using Google Classroom, email, and phone calls. Students in seventh and eighth grade have been reviewing topics from the beginning of the year about graffiti art and animating surfaces. They visited the “Capital Walls; Art in Urban Spaces” website, picked out their favorite one, and answered questions in a critique style, relating and making connections to what they see.
I encouraged students to participate in a game of virtual tag or scavenger hunt with their families to see/find as many of the walls as they can.
I also asked them to take a selfie with as many of the walls they find, and then email me their pictures so I can compile and share them with our classes for some art fun. During the coming weeks, students will be visiting different museums online, writing short narratives or answers to questions that I pose on Google Classroom, and watching tutorials that are posted to continue to learn and grow their skills/knowledge in the subject of art from their own homes!
Logen Farrell ’19, childhood education/special education
Sixth-grade general education teacher (social studies), Averill Park School District, Averill Park, New York
For the past three weeks, I have been teaching my sixth-grades solely online by using Google Classroom as the main platform for instruction. Through Google Classroom, I connect my students to learning activities using Flocabulary, NearPod, FlipGrid, BrainPOP, Google Meets, teacher-created choice boards, and so much more.
Every day I ask myself the question, how do I meet the needs of my 113 sixth graders through technology only? My main goal has been to ensure my students’ spirits remain high as I provide them with learning activities that help to maintain skills and continue instruction the best I can until we are reunited in the classroom.
Steven Gamache G’10, adolescence education
Lead eighth-grade English teacher and middle school ELA curriculum manager and coach, Paul Habans Charter School, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are assigning and collecting work via Google Classroom and holding short classes on Zoom every Monday, where we do mini-lessons on content for the week. It’s a challenge to keeps kids engaged and accountable, but I realize there are a lot of factors to consider for how everyone is handling this.
Jen Hazzard ’09, adolescence education
Chemistry and physics teacher, Gloversville High School, Gloversville, New York
I teach full-time high school and am an adjunct at Fulton Montgomery Community College.
I have moved all of my high-school classes fully online using Google Classroom. I record myself doing labs and have the students take down data at home, and have them complete all assignments through Classroom. This is going pretty well, as long as the students participate!
I’m teaching my college class online using Blackboard. That is going well, too. In addition, I decided to create a YouTube channel to make a one-stop shop for science at home for parents who were having trouble deciding what to do with their children at home, science-wise. I do demos and at-home lab activities for them to enjoy.
I think a lot of good will come out of this, especially in the areas of taking risks as educators and better connecting with our students outside of the classroom.
Sarah Hendry ’11, childhood education/special education
English as a second language (ESL) teacher, Legacy College Preparatory Charter School, Bronx, New York
Teaching remotely has been different the past few weeks. I teach English as a New Language across the sixth-eighth grades. I also co-teach in history classes across the grades, and for remote learning, I am recording myself reading the text and giving a word study. I use Zoom to teach them one hour a day where I share my screen with them and we will read, do listening activities by using BrainPOP, and we do a lot of speaking with the use of Flipgrid.
I also assign my students work on another program that I use called ILit ELL through Pearson for them to practice writing skills, reading, speaking, and listening. I also provide a daily update to my scholars using google classroom. In this time I continue to have a positive outlook on everything going on.
I am thankful for my professors from Saint Rose (Dr. Fragnoli and Dr. Flihan), who are always checking in with me in NYC during this whole outbreak or sending me resources that they think I could use.
Brendan Hoffman G’04, educational psychology
Music teacher, Albany High School, Albany, New York
I have been reaching out to students via Remind and Google Classroom and creating opportunities for students to continue making music with videos of warm-ups and sight-singing examples. I am also continuing to prepare AP Music Theory students for their exam. I had a Google Meet with them, and it was really nice to see and hear the students, who I miss very much.
Chelsea Izzo ’13, G’16, a fourth-grade teacher at Yates Elementary School (Schenectady, New York), received a Donors Choose grant to provide supplies to help her students learn at home during the COVID-19 shutdown. She slyly quizzed the students on what they most needed, and sent them packages full of books, games, and whatever else they were lacking, such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, and even a pair of sneakers.
Kaitlin Lambert Donahue G’10, school leadership
Hamilton Elementary School, North Kingston, Rhode Island
It’s been a tremendous undertaking to move to distance learning overnight. My school is home to 450 K-5 students with a district special education program. The teachers are making it happen, and I’m doing all I can to support them virtually!
Last week, we led a virtual Spirit Week for our students, as Spirit Weeks are part of our school culture. We had great participation and students were able to share crazy socks, costume days, etc. It was fun to log into Google classroom and see so many students wearing a hat to show their school spirit. This week we have organized a teacher parade to visit student neighborhoods as a staff in an effort to keep morale up and finish the school year strong! As much as possible, I’m being transparent with my staff on how hard this is.
It is my eighth year as a school principal. I also have two small boys at home with me (Bowen, 2 1/2 and Mark, 9 months). It has been a humbling experience, but I feel grateful for our health and the challenge, as it has been an empathy-building opportunity.
Angelina Maloney ’96, chemistry adolescence education
Superintendent, Brunswick City School District, Brunswick, New York
My district is focusing on maintaining relationships with students and meeting their basic needs. As superintendent, I go into school every day, pack food, deliver Chromebooks, etc. I am trying to ensure my faculty feels supported during this time. I connect with our community on social media, usually twice a day.
I’ve read a bedtime story to a horse and showed the students a fire truck. We do the pledge each and every day!
Anila Mersini G’11, school building leader, educational leadership and administration
Assistant principal, NYC Board of Education, New York, New York
As everyone else, we are committed to remote learning, and my teachers are going above and beyond to engage our students in learning and our counselors are assisting in the social-emotional well being of our students.
Lyndsey (Tedesco) Mokhiber ’03 G’05, education
Second-grade teacher, Wake County, North Carolina
I am a second-grade teacher who has entered uncharted waters with thousands of my colleagues by teaching from home. It is challenging at times and still rewarding. I miss my students greatly and am sad to hear we will not be returning this school year. We have made connections through Google meetings and fun videos. I never imagined teaching in this way, but it definitely has me reevaluating my teaching when we are back in the classroom. We are capable of so much more than I ever realized!
Ashlyn Slater ’13, social studies: adolescence education
AP World History teacher, Albany High School, Albany, New York
Online learning evolves daily as educators and students collaboratively reflect on the most effective practices and strategies to ensure student success.
Google Classroom has provided the foundational means for distribution of polls, activities, discussions, quizzes, videos, and more!
As originals of the digital age, students are eager and willing to give things a try. Their participation in and ownership of their learning is greatly admired and appreciated!
Lynette Smith ’96, elementary education: pre-K-6
Teacher, Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence, Albany, New York
Since we have not been in school since March 13, my school has been trying to reach out to students to ascertain their access to technology. The City School District of Albany began distributing devices to students in need this week.
Next week we are beginning to instruct new content. I will be using Google Classroom to include e-learning supports such as Khan Academy, Prodigy, Flocabulary, and LearnZillion. We have been having faculty meetings and team meetings via Google Meet.
Thomas Styles ‘96, elementary education: pre-K-6
Owner, TSL Adventures Childcare, Albany, New York
I’m continuing to manage our business during the crisis. Some of our daycares are still open for essential workers.