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Local teachers reflect on lessons learned a year after pandemic began

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 19:26:42-04

COPPERAS COVE, TX — It’s been a year since students across Central Texas packed up their school supplies for spring break, not knowing if and when they would be able to come back due to COVID-19.

While transitioning to online learning for a few days, weeks or even months was hard for some students, it was tough on some educators as well.

In fact, virtual learning was something Charlotte Heinze never thought would happen in her 24 years of teaching.

“You've got to be able to adapt and change in life, period,” the marketing and business teacher at Copperas Cove ISD said. “I think that this was, I mean, not the way it went, but I think it was a great learning experience for us all.”

Copperas Cove only missed a few days of in-person learning, but was quickly back on track with more than 70% of its students back to in-person learning.

It was something some of the most experienced teachers could not have imagined they would have to do, let alone those who are still early in their career.

This included Candice Bower, a veteran who transitioned into teaching 5 years ago.

“Virtual learning never crossed my mind at all,” the kindergarten teacher said. “I'm not the best with technology, it blows my mind with how much I've learned about technology this year and I actually fell in love with it.”

She taught all online courses for the first three months after spring break, but now she’s back to teaching in person.

She admitted that sometimes she misses the opportunities virtual learning gave her.

“When I talked about Christopher Columbus and George Washington, like I've dressed up as George Washington,” she said, laughing. “For Christopher Columbus, I made a little boat and I sailed into my video.”

However, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always troubleshooting and typing.

This time last year, students went on spring back and some never made it back.

“You and I got to experience it,” Heinze said. “They're not getting to experience a true...true senior year, true junior year, you know, the years that they have in high school.”

As more COVID-19 vaccines become available, and Governor Abbott continues to lift mandates, they both said that they’re unsure what the future will hold, but are optimistic for what’s on the other side of summer.

“Other states are slowly opening back up, things are going back to normal, the vaccines are coming out, so I'm very hopeful...very hopeful,” Heinze said.