Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at email@example.com.
by: Olivia Dizes
Being a new teacher is a tough job. Teaching during a pandemic is a tough job. But being a new teacher during a pandemic? That’s got to be one of the hardest jobs I can imagine.
As it is, teaching just isn’t for everyone. It takes a special skill set to be a teacher and takes a tremendous amount of patience. Kelly Southwick, a fourth-grade teacher at Hanmer Elementary School, hasn’t taught a year without the effects of COVID.
Last year was her first year teaching, and she only got half of a normal year. She’s had to adjust to her job and to the ongoing pandemic all at once.
However hard the job may be, Mrs. Southwick has taken it in stride and never fails to do her best to make her students feel safe, happy, and productive during this time.
Before the pandemic, I was able to see firsthand how amazing she is with her students. She cares for the children like her own and does whatever she needs to do to help them out.
Mrs. Southwick also says that Hanmer’s school community has been great, and they’ve all come together to make this as normal and as fun as they can, since collaboration is huge this year.
Focus has had to shift to adjust to try and get the kids back to where they were at the end of last year and beyond. Thinking outside the box is the defaut, like using baking to teach fractions. She’s been incorporating fun auditory and visual ways for students to learn away from the chromebook.
While the pandemic threw a curveball, Mrs. Southwick seemed to hit a home run on the hardest pitch she could get. She says that she’s been able to still build her valuable relationships with her students and coworkers.
“I think when you’re in a difficult situation, it forces you to come closer than you normally would and really think outside the box and push yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t,” she said.
She says this time has been an important test, because you push yourself in ways you normally wouldn’t to be the best educator you can. The past year has been a group effort, and the response from students and coworkers has made it all worth it.
As a student myself, I would say one of the hardest parts of this year was forming relationships with your teachers, which are easily lost through a computer screen. However, Mrs. Southwick has managed to build lasting bonds with her students and never fails to keep them not only engaged, but excited to learn.
She told me that the kids are more open this year, that they’re looking for a strong base; someone to lean on, someone to learn with, someone to laugh with.
“I think you connect on a deeper level. Kids lean on you more and want to make a greater connection with you because there’s a new barrier that’s in the way.”
Throughout what has been the hardest year for both students and teachers, Mrs. Southwick has done the most for her students, even giving up her summer to teach online summer school at Hanmer.
When asked if there was any time in the past year where things got overwhelming she immediately said no. “I think when you really love what you do, it’s easy to rise to the occasion.”
She has a true passion for her work and it shows. Her students adore her as a teacher and as a friend, and she’s proven to be a staple in the Hanmer community, with many more successful years to come.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.