11Alive follows Ms. Kelsey Drews’ journey through the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year as she goes through the pandemic.
FULTON COUNTY, Georgia – Teachers and students continue to navigate the pandemic every day. While some learn at home, others are in the classroom. Both contexts have their challenges and can be filled with frustrations.
11Alive is Where Atlanta Speaks and we take a close look at the impact of COVID-19 on Georgian students and their educators.
We are following Ms. Kelsey Drews’ journey in the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year. Drews is a third-grade teacher at Heritage Elementary and was chosen as the Fulton County Schools Teacher of the Year after several applications and interviews.
August 3 – August 6 | Preparation of students
Pre-planning has been a flurry of back-to-school planning and meetings. The buzz was palpable as we rushed through the hallways. One day after a virtual meeting, we were able to meet in the gym and play team games. We played giant Uno and completed tasks. It was really nice to work with my colleagues from all over the building. Some that I don’t interact with on a daily basis and haven’t seen much since the start of the pandemic. (Last year we isolated ourselves in our rooms and didn’t do much mixing).
August 5 | Heritage Open Doors
We met our students and their parents for the first time this school year. The third year had a table outside on the bus ramp where parents could walk and get in the car. We had a great participation. It was so exciting to meet new students face to face and not on the computer. Many of us have been visited by our former students. I was so happy to give my children a hug and introduce them to their fourth grade teachers. Some of the kids we saw were students we spent a year on either side of a screen. The parents were really excited. One parent said, “Mrs. Drews, I miss seeing you in my living room every day.
August 9 | First day of school!
I got 16 on the first day. About half I met at the open house. I have a few students who are siblings or cousins of former students and it’s always fun.
August 10 – August 13 | Manage “laptop computer problems”
A few new students are arriving. Only a few students return with working laptops. It’s a big job trying to figure out who needs repair or replacement. Many students who were virtual last year have returned with laptop problems. Several absent students. So far, it seems parents are being careful and doing a good job of keeping children home if they seem sick.
August 16 | 2 new students today
The class begins to enter the flow of things. This week, we’re testing students’ reading levels and rating them on math and iReady reading. Normally, when the students leave the next class, we have a good idea of where the students left off. This year we have a mix of students who have not taken any tests since the 2019 school year. We have students who have not been to school since then either. There is a lot of catching up to do.