January 13, 2021 -- Since school began this year, Julianne Schmitz, a Pre-K Special Needs Teacher at Moler (K-6), takes a field trip once a month, usually on a Friday. She delivers a book and a bag of treats to each one of her students’ homes.
“It started out as just a book for each student,” said Schmitz. “I would drop it off on Friday, and then we would read it together on Zoom in class on Monday. For me, it was a great way to check on my students and their families. It was also a great way to stay still connected and build some rapport with them. I wanted them to know that I’m not just the lady on the computer screen.”
This is only Julianne Schmitz’s second year teaching for Columbus City Schools. “While I have a lot to learn, I do know Pre-K special needs students learn behavioral and social-emotional development through play and in-person activities.”
Schmitz was a little worried about doing that in a completely virtual environment, but one thing has become more apparent over the last nine months. “It’s more of a partnership with the parents and guardians,” said Schmitz. “Before the pandemic, the kids would get dropped off at school and return home at the end of the school day. Now, these families are online, and we are learning together. I am explaining activities that can be done at home.”
Schmitz is also appreciative of the online time with the occupational and speech therapists. “I am able to participate in their lessons and have gained a stronger understanding of their expertise when working with my students,” said Schmitz. “This has helped me collaborate with them more effectively, which has strengthened my teaching.”
And that’s not the only benefit of this virtual learning experience. “The monthly gift baskets are getting bigger,” said Schmitz. “My mom wanted to get my students gifts. One month, my grandma made my students homemade buckeyes, and my friends are always asking me what they can contribute.”
Schmitz’s January gift bag included the book, a blanket, hats, gloves, cookies, and hot chocolate.“What a nice problem to have,” said Schmitz. “My family and friends are all pitching in to help my young students.”
No matter when Schmitz’s students return to the classroom, this young teacher is committed to keeping up the field trips and special deliveries, at least for the rest of 2021.