'We just can't give up on the kids': First-year teacher weighs in on joining profession mid pandemic

Posted at 8:46 AM, Sep 22, 2021

COPPERAS COVE, TEXAS — If you traveled back to 2019 and told Sarah Yokubaitis what she'd be doing professionally in 2021, she would look you in the face and call you crazy.

“My background is in social work,” she said. “I've always been interested in helping the community and serving my community in one way or another.”

If you were to have the same conversation today, she’d tell you that she would be crazy to do anything but teach a group of kindergartners.

“I didn't expect that it would land me in the elementary classroom but here I am,” she explained, with a smile. “I love it. I'm glad I did [it].”

She’s a part of a brave and unique community, first-year teachers.

“This year's batch of new teachers, they're really special,” said Earl Parcell, the principal at Martin Walker Elementary School, where Yokubaitis teaches.

She’s one of the many educators facing the pandemic head-on, in the classroom for the first time.

However, it’s inside of schools that have served as a breeding ground for COVID-19 and in some cases, killing some educators in our area.

When asked if watching these deaths scare her from walking inside of the school every day, Yokubaitis emotionally answered and said this:

“I try not to think about it, but it is reality,” she said as tears began to fill her eyes. “For me, personally, I'm thankful that I feel comfortable in this environment, but I know that not everyone has that same comfort zone.”

It’s a tough reality, she admitted, that only a few are willing to take on.

“When they look back in five or six years,” Parcel said. “They will have done something that none of us have ever done.”

They’re positions that require grit and will like no other.

“We're going to do this with innovation, and with an unrelenting desire to help the kids in every way possible,” he continued.

Parcell commended Yokubaitis for having these qualities and so many more.

“We just can't give up on the kids,” she said with a smile “We can't give up on them. They deserve to have a quality education, no matter the circumstances of the world, the community. So we gotta keep going.”