CLEVELAND — When we talk about education, we talk about numbers: the right ratio of teachers to students, how many kids can you fit in a classroom, the right number of days for optimal learning, and for the second school year, the number that teachers are counting is students — hoping not to lose anymore.
“I had 150 seniors, and at one point I only had 45 graduating,” said Glenville High School teacher Kimberly Golphin. "Those students who are in my top 10 who I was expecting to be my leadership, they fell off. They completely were not involved."
"It was painful to know that students that were 17 were getting full-time jobs to help make sure that the lights were still on, that their younger siblings were able to get the stuff that they needed,” said Antoinette McCall, a teacher at Collinwood High School.
McCall’s and Golphin’s students come back to their classrooms on Aug. 23 after a year of upheaval in the classroom and at home.
"We have to find out what it is that they know, what it is that we need them to know and try to come up with a plan for them to get there,” McCall said.
It's not just teachers, but parents, too, are breaking down the numbers and figuring out what's next.
"For our family, we're trying to approach this as a clean slate year in and out of school,” said parent Stephanie Roksanditch. “Last year was a struggle for us."
Roksanditch is a mom of three in Brunswick and preschool owner. Her kids typically get good grades but struggled during remote learning.
"I'm hopeful that things will be more normal,” she said.
Of course, some learning loss over the summer is normal, even in a year not overshadowed by a global pandemic.
"Especially in the reading department and math — those, it takes a lot of time for those subjects,” Roksanditch said.
But this year, that gap may have grown, and the work to catch up may not be confined to the classroom.
"Just be prepared to do your part at home as well,” Roksanditch said. “It's not just on the teacher during the day."
Here in Ohio, teachers are still waiting on state numbers —results from spring tests won't be available until after this school year starts.
That means it's up to these teachers to find that magic number, to figure out how students fell behind.
"I'm just ready for the year to start. I don't know what's going to happen,” Golphin said. "We have to, as teachers, we're going to have to work harder.”