‘A Matter of Faith’ looks at how educators and students have fared during the pandemic
November 12, 2022
Just about the first thing that “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast” hosts the Rev. Lee Catoe and Simon Doong wanted to know from their guest, second-grade teacher Jamie Woods, as part of a recent podcast was: How have educators managed to remain resilient two years into the enormous educational challenges brought on by a global pandemic?
“It had to do with my friendships, the people who know what we’re going through,” said Woods, who teaches at Emma Jewel Charter Academy in Cocoa, Florida. “I could go into a teacher friend’s classroom and just vent about the day. They sit and listen,” which is oftentimes “just what we need, not, ‘Did you try this?’ ‘Well, yes, we did try that, and they still don’t listen.’ What’s kept me going is my teacher friends, and an administration that’s been great.”
How, Catoe wondered, have churches and other faith communities been supporting educators over the past two years?
In ways big and small, but always appreciated, Woods said.
One church arranged for massage therapists to work their magic during teacher appreciation week. A Texas pastor whom Woods met at Montreat Conference Center arrange to have a fund pay for all the items on Woods’ classroom wish list for the year.
The less dramatic offers to help are no less appreciated. “You can always come in and read to the class,” she said. “Thirty minutes without having to do anything with your scholars,” as the students are called at Emma Jewel Charter Academy, “you can sit there and get work done.” Or volunteers can wield their scissors to take care of the volume of cutout work that comes with any second-grade classroom.
“Those are good areas to support schools,” Woods said.
“Kids are resilient,” Woods said in response to a question from Doong. “That may be a cliché, but they followed the rules for the most part without any issues. We were afraid we would have so many issues following the lockdown [in 2020-21] — washing hands, wearing masks and being separated. We thought kids would have a hard time with that, but they didn’t.”
The biggest challenge for students, she said, was “learning online and not interacting with their peers.” During a hybrid period when some students were in the classroom while others were still learning from home online, Woods would show the classroom students a picture of the Zoom lineup.
“Oh,” the classroom students would say. “I didn’t even know they were in my class!”
“Second-graders roll with things,” Woods said.
“I hope we can get to the point where teachers can actually do their jobs and continue to make an impact on kids,” Catoe told her. “We are praying for you and all the teachers out there who are doing God’s work, because it is. Whatever tradition you are in, you are doing the Divine’s work. We appreciate you.”
Catoe and Doong reminded listeners of the PC(USA)’s Educate a Child, Transform the World initiative, a response to the 221st General Assembly (2014). Included is a toolkit designed to help congregations start an education-oriented ministry.
Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: ‘A Matter of Faith’ podcast on education
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Sharon Kandel, Mission co-worker serving in South Sudan, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Hyo Jin Kang, Senior Administrative Assistant, Asian & Korean Intercultural Congregational Support Offices, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Almighty God, we seek to glorify you in our worship. Open our hearts and minds to your Holy Spirit’s leading, so that we might dream dreams and see visions as we strive to serve all in our community and bring a forestate of your kingdom to our neighbors. Amen.