FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — It’s been a very different year for all of us, especially the teachers across the DMV. They’ve been forced to pivot their teaching style many times during the last year to accommodate the coronavirus.
While this school year has looked very different, our teachers have been a constant source of support making sure every student feels important, whether it was in person or online.
At Chantilly High School in Fairfax County, they are finding ways to celebrate their teachers for, “Teacher Appreciation Week.”
“I really do appreciate it so much both as a principal and as a parent in the Chantilly community. During this very challenging time of the pandemic, they’ve kept their focus on students while doing every single thing they can to meet their needs academically socially and emotionally,” said Chantilly High School Principal Scott Poole.
During the past week, school staff at Chantilly High School surprised teachers with ice cream socials, surprise lunches and school swag in their mailboxes.
This year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is also encouraging students and parents to “Thank a Teacher” by sending a personalized card to show appreciation.
“I know that the teachers have had a rough time over the last year and anytime you hear positive feedback whether it’s from kids or parents in the community, it really means something. I mean my daughter also goes to Chantilly so we love this place and we really believe and want to show the kids that we care about them and want them to have memorable experiences,” said Michele Gates.
“This has been a great week for teachers and making sure they are celebrated. We had a different lunch and provided different treats in their mailboxes each day,” said Karla Hogan.
In March 2020, school districts across the DMV went completely virtual. Now, a majority of the school districts offer a hybrid option where they have the option to physically attend class several days a week.
“No one has any idea how hard they’ve worked. We’re making sure that our students feel supported in every sense of the word, academically, socially, and our counseling staff. Everyone has made sure that our students know that we are here for them,” said Karla Hogan.
Now, many teachers and school administrators are looking ahead to prom and graduation, which they say will look very different this year.
“We have to think outside the box. You really have to say that this year cannot be compared to any other year, but the fact is we are going to celebrate our 682 seniors this year. We are lucky and blessed enough in order to celebrate together in one ceremony rather than running multiple ceremonies,” said Karen Molloy.
For prom this year, school administrators at Chantilly High School worked with the PTA to rent two tents that can allow students to attend prom while socially distancing outside.
“They will have an hour and a half shifts so they will come for an hour and a half to prom and then we will clear everybody out, clean all the high-touch areas and then the next batch of kids will come in and they will be dancing,” said Michele Gates.
Students will also be wearing masks and there will be sanitation stations at the event.
“There will be some food and snacks and really we just want for them to spend time with their friends and make those memories,” said Michele Gates.
“Everything is a new day and we are going from there. A little over four weeks from now, we will have a graduation and at the end of the day, it’s important that we call every kid’s name because that’s why you’re here. It’s because every single kid has achieved something that maybe a year and a half ago they weren’t thinking was going to be an issue but it was now,” said Karen Molloy.