Student Perspectives: What teacher / support staff has made a positive impact in your distance learning this year, and why?
By Janet Le
MHS 12th grader
One of the teachers that has continued to make a positive impact on my distance learning is Ms. Ivy Nguyen. Her AP Statistics class does well in adhering to the class curriculum that we would have had during in person classes. Distance learning has severely decreased my motivation and engagement, but every time I attend Ms. Nguyen’s Zoom calls, I am greeted with energy. She also makes the effort to talk to the class, even though we are all zombies in the morning. Math is one of the subjects I struggle with the most, so I gladly appreciate that Ms. Nguyen has very concise presentations and notes. The homework assignments are consistently posted and neatly laid out in her weekly agendas. This has allowed me to manage my time better and reduce my stress. She has also been understanding throughout my technological difficulties and has spent time after school administering make up tests.
Another staff member that I have appreciated during distance learning is my guidance counselor, Mr. Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez has been extremely helpful and quick in responding to my emails about literally everything. The stress I had when applying for colleges was greatly reduced when I asked Mr. Hernandez about all the questions I had. Even though I felt like my questions may have sounded stupid or redundant, he always responded in a kind manner. I also had trouble with my schedule both first and second semester since I decided to drop an elective class to apply as a TA. This resulted in my attendance being messed up and my name not appearing on the correct rosters both semesters, which is completely understandable since all forms of communication to the office had been reduced to emailing. Mr. Hernandez was able to contact the right people and in a very efficient manner, which helped me and other staff members.
By Shivali Gulati
One teacher who has impacted my learning in a positive way is Mr. McGarry. Outside of teaching academy students English, Mr. McGarry has taken the initiative to reestablish E-Tech’s leadership council during distance learning. As our leadership advisor, Mr. McGarry guides over twenty E-Tech sophomores, juniors, and seniors in hosting monthly bonding events to maintain our academy’s strong sense of community virtually. Despite the overwhelming workload on students and teachers, he always enters our meetings with a large smile on his face, ready to engage with his students and turn our ideas into a reality. In particular, I admire Mr. McGarry’s dedication to not only making our academy-wide events as enjoyable as possible, but also how he encourages connections between the underclassmen and upperclassmen. From Star Wars references to Disney songs, seeing our academy come together with each event is only possible because of Mr. McGarry’s enthusiasm.
Beyond our leadership meetings, I have worked closely with Mr. McGarry and senior Aashna Gajaria to pitch E-Tech to several underclassmen over Zoom. With Mr. McGarry’s feedback, Aashna and I were able to pique the interest of eighty students by explaining our 3D-printed creations, NAF internship experience at Verizon, and involvement in the FlexFactor Business Program. As a senior, having the opportunity to represent E-Tech alongside Mr. McGarry has been so rewarding. I’m excited to see the future of E-Tech with Mr. McGarry’s leadership and positive mindset.
Mr. Barrett who is currently my teacher for AP Environmental Science has made learning about Environmental Science fun and engaging despite us being in distance learning. He has found ways that allow my peers and I to do labs that we normally would have done in person at home in a way that works for everyone. The labs give me hands-on experience about what I am learning and help me to learn better. As a result, I believe that being able to do the labs is a big deal. He also gives extra non-graded work that helps my peers and I practice, called enhancements. These have helped me to better understand what I am being taught and will help me receive a good score on the AP exam. Mr. Barrett makes a lot of jokes to help lighten the mood and make a better learning environment. Even if his jokes may be cheesy or corny they are still better than nothing. Mr. Barrett also does a good job of allowing everyone to get to know each other by putting us into random breakout rooms to work together. Mr. Barrett takes into consideration the difficulties students may be faced with online learning and gives plenty of time to complete assignments. I hope everyone takes environmental science to learn how to be more sustainable and protect the environment. It comes with an added bonus of having an amazing teacher.
The pandemic has thrown a curveball in everyone’s path, especially for the students that are missing out on a time that is made for memories. As a senior it was heartbreaking to realize I would miss out on the last big moments I would get to experience before starting a new journey. We started the year desperately trying to connect through a screen; we are in this together, but it feels like we are so far apart. Through it all my motivation came from my AVID teacher, Ms. Edwards. She has been my teacher since freshman year and helped me grow into the student I am today. She has always believed in all of her students, and I’ve never once felt like I was just a student in her class. I always felt like I was loved and seen. A thing I held onto from this school year was an activity she gave us. It was something most people forget to do, be grateful. It sounds like nothing major, but in a time where everything seems so dark you have to find the light even if you can barely see it. After that day I began to do it more frequently, and as time went on, everything didn’t seem as dark. It doesn’t seem like much, but it genuinely made a difference for me, and Ms.Edwards has always found ways to motivate, uplift, and empower us. She created an environment for our class to be like a family. At the end of the day, she is our biggest cheerleader, our shoulder to lean on, and the big warm hug we all need sometimes. She genuinely takes the time to take care of each and every one of her students, and she is the type of teacher I hope my future kids get to experience one day.
I have always had a lot of fun making connections with my teachers. Unfortunately, most of my teachers I only have for a full-year course, and it’s easy to lose connection. Being in the Academy of Travel and Tourism on the other hand, I am able to have a set of teachers that I see in class for three years of high school. Ms. Brownstein, in particular, has been such an impactful teacher, and it was only until this year when I was able to join our academy’s leadership team, that I had grown to appreciate her greatly. Every Wednesday when she hosts our academy leadership meeting, we are involved in student-lead activities. Ms. Brownstein would always be open to our ideas, and I'd say almost all of the academy activities have been thought out and executed by us, the students. One thing I really appreciate about Ms. Brownstein is her attentiveness; she works with us and understands us enough to understand our specific strengths. I take a special interest in being an enthusiastic leader who can lead groups of people, and noticing this, she would assign me to tasks that would help me further develop that skill.
Not only does she notice my strengths, but she can also be someone I can open up to about my doubts as a student. During college application season, Ms. Brownstein set aside time for us every Wednesday, to individually look over our college essays and talk to us about them. In this time, I was able to receive live feedback on my work and open up to her about my colleges and the expectations I feel as a student. Having this relationship with her has tremendously helped me in the great stressor of a pandemic due to the fact that I have a teacher who genuinely cares about me and not just the work I turn in. Throughout these years and the hours we encounter one another, I have learned a lot about Ms. Brownstein and how hard she has worked all of her life to push students like me to be their best selves.