East Rock School ESOL teacher Norine Polio has been at the school for 25 years but doesn’t ever remember a time like this. “Never, never,” she said, speaking by phone from her home. “This is very unusual, very strange.”
It has also been a sad time for Ms. Polio. She has lost her brother-in-law to COVID-19 as well as a friend. Some other family members are sick as well. “This has just been awful,” she said.
“I have never worked harder in my life.”
But Ms. Polio is determined to stay connected to students and to help them learn while they are at home. Just as schools closed, she made the quick decision to relocate her classroom to her house. She spent two very long days filling up her station wagon with items. At home, she has taken over the room that holds her collection of pop-up books (you might get to hear her read some!).
Ms. Polio has also been creating special lessons and sending pages of workbooks to students through the mail. Her partner Peter, a graphic designer, is videotaping her reading stories and she is even planning lessons that will include puppets. She will share the videos with students. “I will be like Mr. Rogers,” she said, adding that “I have never worked harder in my life.”
Ms. Polio brought home so many materials that “if it takes a year, I have enough work” for students. But she hopes it is not too long before she can see her students again in person. “I miss my students terribly,” she said. For now, she enjoys a group photo and “looking at these wonderful faces I haven’t seen for a month.”