RICHMOND, Va. — At least seven new educators will begin their teaching careers at Carver Elementary School in Richmond, but they won’t be stepping into a classroom.
Richmond Public Schools, along with Henrico and Chesterfield schools, will begin 100 percent online instruction in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday morning, CBS 6 sat in on a Zoom conversation with Carver Elementary Principal Tiawana Giles and her newest teachers. All will teach virtually for the first time this Fall.
“In teaching, we know we have to be very flexible,” Giles said. “We are not going to let anyone fail in this work, virtual is just another piece of the pie because in education we do use technology. We are just using it all day now in a different way.”
Some of the new teachers just graduated from college, while others have had career changes later in life. They all share the passion to teach children.
“A lot of parents want learning to continue for their students, and I just want to let them know we are all in this together,” 5th grade Exceptional Education teacher Kelly Johnson Crowder said.
Jess Thompson just completed teaching 3rd grade summer school with RPS that gave her a preview of what to expect when she's assigned to instruct 5th grade this Fall.
"Their engagement was still up, they were all participating and eager to sign upon in the morning. The fact I was still able to form great relationships with them was a shock to me because I wasn’t sure if that was going to happen," she explained.
Carver's assistant principcal Theron Sampson said they knew they needed to change their learning habits due to the pandemic.
"Whether we are in person or virtual we are going to be there," Sampson said.
Some of the new teachers are also parents who will be tasked with the dual role of observing their children's schooling as well as teaching a classroom.
"We all keep saying to each other no matter what we are all in this together and no one is on their own," said Becky Morris, a new 4th grade teacher.
Giles has encouraged her teachers to set up fundraisers through DonorsChoose.org to help fund their classrooms and resources.
New 5th grade teacher Justin Baber, who just finished his Master’s at VCU, is fundraising to buy a whiteboard and headsets for his students.
Crowder planned to use her donations to buy a new printer, shredder, and storage caddies and notebooks for her students.
Ms. Davidson, a second grade teacher, aimed to buy headphones for her students, as well as a Post-it easel pad to teach.
Merinda George-Jones, the school’s 5th grade team lead, hoped to purchase file folders, crayons, and other essential supplies for her students, some who come from disadvantaged households.
Some Carver teachers’ fundraisers have already been fulfilled thanks to generous donations.
RPS planned to provide all teachers with a document camera that will allow students to follow teachers’ writings in real-time. They're also offering training sessions to employees to better prepare them for online instruction.
The first day of classes is scheduled for September 8.