Studying remotely; parents and teachers rise to the challenge

Youth. Students all across the area are studying at home. Here's a look at how it's going for a student at home in Stillwater.

17 Mar 2020 | 04:28

On Monday, local schools went to remote teaching. Some are adapting quickly to the change, but there are challenges and the biggest adjustment is how different these students' and teachers' worlds became overnight. They check in for attendance each morning via computer and there are no sports or after school activities.

Kristina Lightcap is an art teacher at Kittatinny Regional High School. In light of the threat of spread of the Coronavirus, she is teaching her students remotely and her daughter, Gwen, is a freshman at the school and has been learning remotely since Monday, March 16th.

“I really don't mind so much being home so far,” Gwen Lightcap said. “Not having to get ready in the morning, I am self-motivated to get all my work done. Teachers are posting work for us to complete and give us feedback. I do miss seeing my friends in person. Most of all, I will be devastated if softball is done for the season."

She was looking forward to her first season playing for Kittatinny.

“I am still finding all of this really hard to wrap my brain around all of this,” Kristina Lightcap said. “Teaching in Google Classroom is not an issue for me...the issue is missing the true hands-on component and social interaction with my students. Yes, they can learn online, but it is not the same tactile experience in my subject areas.:

Teaching four subjects will be a challenge, she says.

"But it is what it is, we have to stay healthy," As a parent, having teens at home is a challenge to begin with, and then add to the mix completing work on their own. No one wants their parents to be telling them what to do. I feel for our special education and learners that need extra support...this might not be easy for them."

She also wonders if seniors will have a "real senior year."

"I feel for our athletes, musicians, artists, scholars etc. that are all missing out on so much."

Joanne Moretz teaches history at Newton High School.

“I have found the first two days of remote learning to be both exhausting and invigorating,” she said. “I tracked all that I did and the time it took to do it and I discovered I worked an 11 hour day on day one. This morning (day two) I sent my students a message that plans would be amended and I have already started to make adjustments.”

Moretz used COVID-19 as an issue for a shared journal activity with her US 2 students, and through it she has learned that one of her students works at Bristol Glen and wants to work in the medical field, specializing in care of the elderly.

Another student has a birthday soon and is sad that she won't be able to go to a concert as planned. Others told of Moretz they were avoiding older family members out of concern for their health.

Marah Whitby is an honors and AP student at Kittatinny.

“Teachers expect us to get a lot of work done," she said. "The group chat also makes us feel like we are not alone, so it's less stressful. Things are going ok so far, but it's only day two!”

In Stillwater, the Steffens family has hunkered down. Jessica Steffens is a 6th-grade teacher at The Stillwater Township Elementary School and her daughters, Clara (13 and in seventh grade at Kittatinny Middle School) and Laney (10 and in fourth grade at Stillwater Elementary) are studying remotely.

"It's been a challenge balancing teaching and monitoring my own students' throughout the day, as well as helping my girls with their learning,” Jessica said. “So far, I feel that everyone was prepared for this and that has made the transition into remote learning much easier. We planted some seeds indoors and that will be fun to watch them grow as the days go by. I have noticed that keeping a schedule is important. Getting dressed in the morning is key. I think all we can do now is make the best of this experience and wait it out as best as we can."

Clara initially thought remote instruction would be too complicated to be feasible.

“But now I can see that we do all of the same things we would do everyday and that the only thing missing is my friends. I look forward to going back to school and seeing everyone."

" So far I am having fun,” Laney said. “My sister gets on my nerves sometimes. We try to take breaks and walk on the trail outside. It seems like a ghost town. I like being home but I want things to open again soon."

Principal Brian Bosworth and Superintendent Craig M. Hutcheson is grateful for everyone's flexibility.

“As we move forward, we will have fewer staff members in the building. At this point, our preferred method of communication is email....Our teaching staff will continue to communicate with the students through Google Classroom and via email.”

Deborah Shea is trying to balance having her four children at home along with work as a single mother.

“I need to keep working as long as there is work for me,” she said. “This means I need to rely on the kind hearts of friends to help with the kids."

“My students are riding to the challenge,” Moretz said. “I miss them so much.”