Since schools started being shut down due to the coronavirus in March, teachers everywhere have struggled to maintain connections with their students amid extraordinary times.
Video conferencing has become a regular and necessary part of this equation but one particular video call was far from normal for one group of Chicago educators.
Teachers from Chicago schools have now said they were “overwhelmed,” honored,” and “beyond excited” when beloved longtime Chicago resident and former President Barack Obama appeared on the screen during a call he placed to them in honor of National Teachers Appreciation Week.
Some teachers were visibly trembling when Obama called and thanked three teachers for their dedication. He then asked each of them to recount why they got into teaching in the first place. He even listened as they spoke emotionally of the incredible obstacles they have faced while trying to navigate this new world during the pandemic.
Obama tweeted the video of the call along with a heartfelt message of thanks to educators and teachers everywhere.
There’s no limit to the devotion I’ve seen in teachers like these @ChiPubSchools educators. Their dedication shapes the best parts of who we become. I couldn’t be more thankful for their work, especially as they shift lessons online to keep students on track during this crisis. pic.twitter.com/xYECcrAxdE— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 6, 2020
The teachers included Jalayne Brewton, a middle school teacher at Parkside Academy; Daniel Michmerhuizen, civics and U.S. history teacher at Benito Juarez High School; and Katie Owens, a second-grade teacher at Joseph Kellman Elementary
Obama, pointing out the influence dedicated teachers have in the lives of students everywhere, said, “You spend this time with them and they trust you and you love them and you’re transmitting knowledge… Great teachers, in a lot of ways, put as big of an imprint on their kids as anybody.”
Michmerhuizen, said he had tried to continue on as he would if the students were still physically in his classroom.
“What I’ve tried to do is just transmit my class as much as possible into the remote environment… I teach hour-long classes. to every class because I’m trying to replicate our class, because our class is so powerful in the interaction.”
Obama replied, “You know, if I ever get too down and out, I’m gonna have to tune in to you, so that I can get geared back up.”