With the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering schools this spring, educators have been thrown into an unfamiliar role — trying to teach their students at a distance.
We wanted to throw a spotlight on Greater Sudbury educators who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for their students in these unusual times, and perhaps shown a bit of creativity as they engage their students.
Sudbury.com asked readers for their nominations for local educators who fit this bill, and we received a nomination for Jen Holub, who teaches gym at Adamsdale Public School.
A local musician, Holub has brought her creativity and performance skills to the table in trying to keep her students active during the pandemic.
With help from her partner, Ryan Mariotti, a professional videographer, Holub has created an ongoing series of online fun exercise videos appropriate for kids aged six to nine years old. She posts them to her Ms. Holub YouTube channel, so anyone can view them.
While Mariotti films the segments, Holub does all of the video editing herself.
Each video features multiple costume changes as she dresses up as various characters.
“I have a huge collection of costumes from all of the performances I do professionally with music, plus I am a huge clothes hoarder,” Holub said.
“So I thought I would utilize all of those, and make it really fun and interesting, which is something you can’t do when you’re live, teaching in the classroom ….
“I pretended that I involved family members or colleagues or past babysitters. That way it’s a bit more exciting for the kids to watch. They’re not seeing my same face all the time. It’s been really fun to present that to the students.
“I had one student who was really debating whether or not that was me in all of those costumes or whether or not it was really my aunt and cousin. She sent me this hilarious message that I’m just going to cherish forever.”
She’s done yoga, co-ordination activities, a “sweat in small spaces” series, and even asked kids to submit their dance moves so she can try them out herself in the videos.
“I wanted to make them as accessible as possible for any student, whether they live in an apartment, a house, whether they could only do these exercises in front of their bed, that kind of stuff,” Holub said.
“I just wanted to design something that would work for any space. In the video I’m hosting an exercise for the students, and attempting to engage them in something we might similarly do in our gym classes.”
While Holub said the feedback she’s gotten from kids and parents has been “really sweet” and “overwhelming,” she said she really wants to give props to the classroom teachers.
“Compared to what other teachers are doing, this is really easy,” she said.
“The real heroes are the colleagues I have with very young kids at home who are taking care of them, teaching them, and also teaching their own classrooms. I want to give a shout-out to them.”
Do you know of an educator who has gone above and beyond for their students as learning moved mostly online during the pandemic? Send your nominations to [email protected].
Be sure to include their first and last name and where they work so we can get in touch with them.
Please note these educators could teach anything from daycare or kindergarten, to grade school, to high school, to college or university.