As a paraprofessional who assists students with special needs at Mitchell Elementary School, Lynn Jones wasn’t sure what the transition to e-learning would look like for her. She’s primarily worked with a fifth-grader named Brooks since he was in first grade. Brooks has cognitive and physical disabilities, and at first, it was challenging for Jones’ typical work guiding him through his classes to translate through a FaceTime video call.
“He needed [his] mom to be right there as well,” to assist with the technology, Jones says, an added struggle for a mom with five children. But she quickly found the best way to stay connected with her student: reading.
“We have three [grown] kids, and I had saved some children’s books,” Jones says. “I pulled out a big box of children’s books and kind of got them organized into categories that I thought he would be interested in.” Jones would read to Brooks over FaceTime and also recorded videos of herself reading for his mom to use at her convenience.
Seeing her student’s joy and surprise at recognizing her face on screen has been an unexpected silver lining in a tough past few months, Jones says. Over the years, she has gotten close with Brooks’ family. She lives close by, so one day she biked over to their house to say hello to her student.
“Kids are so funny when they see [teachers] out of context of the school,” she says. He was like looking at me kind of like, what are you doing here? That was really cute.”
With Brooks being a fifth-grader and moving on to middle school in the fall, Jones can’t help feeling like their goodbye was cut short. She says ESE teachers, who tend to work with the same student over multiple years, always talk about how it will be difficult to see graduating students go. But they weren’t prepared for this kind of farewell.
“This coming up made it kind of a partial, premature goodbye,” she says. “You just have got to take the silver lining in a situation like this and, and, you know, be glad that we have the ability to be in touch with them to the extent that we have been through technology.”
“It’ll be memorable,” she adds with a laugh.