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Teachers look back on past year and share requests from parents, students heading into new school year

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 10:44:07-04

CLEVELAND — The word ‘change’ is likely the best word to describe 2020 for Julia Fabich, Martin Zeinway and Amy Fink.

The trio of educators teach totally different subjects, grades and come from different districts, but in the age of COVID-19, there’s one thing they all have in common.

“Things, as we saw last year, changed every day, even sometimes within hours,” said Fabich.

Walking into a new school year, things are still changing.

For Fabich, a first-grade teacher in Canton City Schools, the change is more so functional. The educator is using a vowel board because the youngsters can’t see her mouth, since masks are required in the district.

This spirit of fluctuation hasn’t been the easiest on most teachers like Zeinway, though. When asked if this past year as a teacher was tough on his mental health, he said, “Yes, I’m a parent also. I have two kids so I had to be at home teaching them and then also teaching my students.”

The Rand Corporation said prior to the pandemic, one in six teachers were likely to leave the profession, but during the pandemic, the statistic jumped to one in four teachers.

This fall, Zeinway said he needs parents to change their thinking and share the weight.

“We have to be a partner in this, you can’t just depend on the teachers for everything, you have to play your part,” said Zeinway.

Fink, a middle school math teacher in Parma, said structure and empathy are the core of her lesson plan. While her approach to teaching is changing, what she requires of her students isn't wavering.

"It's not that you lower your expectations or you change your expectations, but how you get there may look a little differently," said Fink. "Maybe you do need to give that extra day to that one student, but still have those expectations. I think that's the key is to keep those expectations high."

This fall, all of these educators said they're prepared to send their students to a destination of success, but they need students and parents to be ready for anything as they make the trip.

"There's a math saying and it says, "In math, you can't add love or subtract hate, but there's hope that there's a solution to every problem," Fink said. "It's just that idea that with every problem there's a solution, we just have to figure out what it is and make it work and it doesn't work we try something else."

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