JoeAnn Nash’s career as an educator started at Loomis-Longwood and she has not looked back since. She started teaching second grade students at Loomis-Longwood in 2010 and then returned in 2018 as an instructional coach for second and third grade teachers. Just before the pandemic hit, JoeAnn returned to her current role as the Loomis K-5 Director of Instruction in July of 2020. “In my new role, I was worried that I would be a distraction when I popped into a room because many of the kids remembered me, but it was wonderful to be greeted by them.” Her return during remote learning reinforced a sense of normalcy and continuity for students and teachers. JoeAnn's educational. journey is one of hope and inspiration during this pandemic.
There have been concerns about the impacts of remote learning on the mental health of students, but Loomis-Longwood is actively working to ensure that every student feels connected. The campus has continued to hold “Grounded and Connected”, their morning meetings. Before the pandemic, these morning meetings were held in the building. This was done by teachers at the start of each day often at the door of their classroom. Some teachers had dance moves or a selection of handshakes they used to greet students. Now during remote learning, there might be a writing prompt or a question with the idea of connecting teachers with students on a personal level.
Technology has actually allowed students to have multiple means of interacting with each other through mics on or the chat option. JoeAnn hopes that when students fully return to in-peerson learning, technological innovation is brought back into the classroom. She already sees the positive aspects such as moving assessments away from paper and pencil to online testing, preparing students for the college and the workforce.
She was pleased at the immediacy of device distribution as she noted that some students in suburban districts initially received paper packets. “In the move to remote learning, the most important thing was to quickly get laptops out to students and get them learning and we were able to do that.” But she also sees the need for books, “ELA students often need to sit with a book and reread a passage several times which can be difficult on a small screen.”
During remote learning, Ms. Nash has been a thought partner for her teachers, offering them grace as well as resources. She wants to make sure that teachers know that they are valued by the school. While there has been national media attention around teachers leaving the profession, Ms. Nash believes that teachers at Longwood-Loomis have felt supported and will stay. “This year feels different. We have worked very hard to create a supportive school culture. We have weekly celebrations for teachers who have demonstrated skills around No Nonsense Nurturing. We show videos of them in action at the weekly huddles so that everyone can recognize the work they have done and those teachers can share how they are doing it.” These collaborations and celebrations also take the form of monthly huddles where teachers are recognized and rewarded as they meet academic and attendance goals. These celebrations will continue when they return to in-person learning.
While remote learning has proved to be challenging, there are bright spots. “There have actually been a number of positive things in remote learning. We had had strong student attendance. Our students have been able to access learning. We have provided support to all of our families, teachers and students. Our teacher retention rate is great.“ For Ms. Nash, her proudest moment is that, during this pandemic, she has been able to build strong relationships with the staff at Loomis-Longwood. “I know that teachers feel that they can reach out to each other, to instructional coaches and to me with their questions, concerns and as thought partners.” When students return to in-person learning, Ms. Nash is sure that teachers are prepared to meet students where they are on their academic journey and support them as they move forward, just as they have done this year.