LANSING, Mich. — At Willow Ridge Elementary there’s a group of third grade teachers who are crushing virtual learning, and getting the recognition they deserve.
Parents thanked Emily Williamson, Lori Van Hoesen and Chris Terranova for going above and beyond for their students.
“These teachers have surfaced in that survey that went out to the whole like central office team and kind of was mentioned, as well as in emails that just have come to me and sometimes copied to them just thanking them for their hard work and their efforts,” said Principal Jim Gee.
The group has worked together on their curriculum, building off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We decided as a third grade team a long time ago we’re better together than apart. We plan everything together we divide and conquer,” said Williamson.
They’ve planned nature walks, read-along sessions, and friendships Zooms.
“I wanted to encourage the kids to go outside. So I turned it into a nature walk and then like, like Emily said we did a writing lesson with it,” said Terranova.
That writing lesson turned into reading sessions and an art project. Van Hoesen says they’ve been putting a lot of work into making the experience fun and valuable for the students.
“I think that there’s a lot of reasons people decide to become teachers, but I think that this year really cements it for me. It’s an opportunity to impact the future, which might sound kind of cheesy but truly this is as I said earlier, an event that is going to be a touchstone childhood memory for our kids,” said Van Hoesen.
They say it hasn’t been a perfect journey, but they hope people understand the sacrifices teachers have made this year.
“There have been some not so great days, but I think that really it’s showing the kids, hey, you know, we’re human and we’re trying our best and that’s how you grow and learn,” said Van Hoesen. “We’re all experiencing it together. This very challenging time and they’re gonna remember it. So do I want it to be positive? Yes and I don’t think there’s a teacher working right now who wouldn’t say that.”
“There are days that I need to be a Math Consultant, a Podiatrist or a Pediatrician, a Librarian. Most days of the week and just to share with the children I’ve taught. I mean, people ask why are you still doing it. It makes me happy,” said Williamson.
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