The Art of Doing

The Teacher: How Belinda Diaz-Perez is Adapting to the Pandemic

Josh Gosfield/Illustration

“I hadn’t wanted to be a teacher, growing up. I thought I’d be an actress or a singer. Later I thought maybe a journalist. But when I got out of college my older sister was a principal, so I worked at her school as a substitute and I loved it. And I guess they loved me cause they kept asking me back. It’s been 23 years. These kids have been through the ringer with me. A few months ago we were on lockdown because of the shooting in our area. My students look to me right away to see how I react so I just keep a really calm demeanor. You’re helping mold them. They see you as much as they see their own parents. On the last day before the shut down last week, I told my students, ‘Be your best at home, help out, be respectful, your parents will be going through a lot.’ The girl who usually takes the class guinea pig home hadn’t come in the last few days because her mother was worried, so on the last day of school, I drove to their house and dropped off the guinea pig and my student’s lesson packets. I didn’t wait for the official start date for remote learning. I knew my students would need something right away. I’m not techie, but I set up a FaceBook page and invited all my students, and first thing, after the weekend, I asked them to post pictures, describe what you’re doing, tell me what you’re having for lunch. I let them know, it’s Monday, this is our classroom now, and I’m here for you all day. Right away, they were signing in, and posting pictures. And seeing all their pictures, I just started to cry. My husband said, ‘What’s wrong?’ It hit me, I won’t see them for who knows how long, and I miss them already.”

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