Three teachers from Denver shared the challenges the pandemic brought with it this school year.



Little did Evyenia Pappas know she wanted to be a teacher by college. It even took other people to point out her strengths and immediate connection with children that convinced her to become an educator. Teaching 6 year olds fully from a computer screen was not one of their skills prior to 2020.

“I absolutely think it’s something to add to my résumé. I have a good understanding of it now,” she said. When school districts first announced that they were moving to distance learning, Ms. Pappas, like other teachers and students, was excited to be able to work from home. “This reality really set in after about a day. After three weeks I had to go back to the building.”

What she misses most is the human connection with her students, said Ms. Pappas. When a student is frustrated or broken down, all she wants to do is give her a hug. “The toolkit you usually use to help these students is gone. You can’t be there to hug them and do all these things. It’s really heartbreaking.”

There are also some good moments that prove just how resilient their first grade kids really are. Ms. Pappas said she could never sign out of her virtual class without a sense of joy and happiness.

“The way this pandemic has affected them is insane. As adults, we know how difficult it is,” she said. “To look through the screen and see that they are still engaged and academically and happily thriving and having fun, I mean that it’s just a very emotional experience because as a teacher you go home every day and say, have I done enough? “

With her class staying 100% away since March 2020, Ms. Pappas created registrations to visit and visit her students in their homes. “Some students show me their toys, others run and hug me; others give me flowers.” She said sometimes they don’t even talk about school. It is just as important to her to check her mental and emotional state.

Ms. Pappas and her students are only a few days away from their much-needed summer break. She looks forward to being back in the classroom next semester and hopes to have all of her students with her.

If she could see her children all together in person before the end of this school year, this is what she would tell them:

“You did it; you survived the toughest, toughest year any of us ever had, and you did it with such grace, with a smile, with joy, and I want them to know that they are through with me Helping the Hardest Year Through all the hard work I had to do and all the personal struggles I had to go through, I want them to know that this year they cared more about me than I cared about she took care of. “”


As a science teacher, Mr. Martin likes to learn and explain why the world works the way it works. That wasn’t easy when the pandemic broke out. He too was looking forward to being able to work from home. It didn’t take long.

“I always thought I wanted a desk job after teaching all day at the computer and I know I don’t love it anymore,” he said.

In January, Mr. Martin was reunited with half of his class when they turned to personal study. The other half remained isolated. He had mixed feelings when he first returned to the building.

“It felt too early, it didn’t feel like we had our numbers under control, so I sat there with a lot of fear, a lot of restlessness, a lot of worry,” he said.

When he got back to the classroom, he said he felt more confident and satisfied with the COVID-19 precautions in place. “The energy of being with the children and the energy of being with my family, my colleagues, also somehow reduced my anxiety.”

Mr. Martin is concerned about student engagement and loss of learning

“We are in education because we care about our students and we want them all to be successful,” he said. “It was heartbreaking to know that they mean a lot to us as individuals. Their future is important to us. When they break up, when they unsubscribe from studying, it’s broken our hearts.”

The withdrawal meant lots of phone calls, emails, and everything else teachers could do to reconnect their students. “In some cases, when kids don’t want to go to school, there wasn’t much. I can’t get you to come to the video meeting, and I can’t get you to do your job … there were still some that we just couldn’t achieve. “

It feels good to have some students back in the classroom and Mr. Martin is looking forward to having more kids on desks next year.

If he could see his children all together in person before the end of this school year, he would tell them this:

“I love you and I’m proud of you. What you’ve been through this year has only made you stronger. You should be proud of yourself too.”


Two years ago, Lia Peppers was delighted to have started her career as a teacher. The pandemic hit a few months later. It posed a number of challenges for her, but it also made her realize how important the human connection really is.

“It is necessary right now,” she said. “We really just put humanization first, and I think that was probably the best decision the school, community, and community staff have made during this whole thing.”

Still, not being able to see her ninth graders in person took an emotional toll.

“There’s that moment when you see someone has it, right? The screen is a physical barrier and it starts to wear you down if you can’t see those moments. There’s a face that students get, when that happens and you can’t see them. “

Ms. Peppers says it is important to be concerned about the loss of learning, but more important to focus on the emotional needs of her students.

Looking back on this year, Ms. Peppers said she could be proud of her students and herself in the face of challenges and constant change.

“I’m proud of our students in ways that I never knew I could be. They have a depth and a resilience that I never knew existed. I’m really proud of myself, and I think other teachers should really own that. ” also.”

Ms. Peppers hopes that the next year will be closer to normal and that there will be more students in the classroom. She also hopes schools can give them these social experiences such as B. encouragements, meetings and school dances. She has also been concerned about the mental and emotional needs of her students over the past year, but hopes things will slowly improve.

If she could see her children all together in person before the end of this school year, this is what she would tell them:

“I would tell them that I love them so much. That is the first thing that comes to mind and I am so amazed and inspired by them and what they have done. Most days, many days, they were the ones who made me do it. It got difficult to have them and see them, that was what kept me going. I can confidently say that I taught them better and witnessed their greatness during a pandemic. “

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