Teacher Appreciation Week
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Teachers have been working hard to stay connected with their students and quickly adapt to remote learning with the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a look at how some Naperville School District 203 teachers are doing just that.
Kimberly Blitek, Kingsley Elementary
Kimberly Blitek’s love of sports and working with kids lead her on the path to becoming a physical education teacher at Kingsley Elementary.
She’s been teaching for 17 years and changing things up has been a challenge, but the PE teacher now got a chance to learn something new and push herself.
“I can do more than I thought I could,” said Blitek. “I never thought I would be able to teach PE from behind a computer screen where you’re moving all over the place. But it’s possible, anything is possible.”
Breaking out those dance moves to a Just Dance routine, cardio bowling, and other fitness challenges are some fun and athletic ways she’s kept her youngsters moving.
For Blitek, staying engaged and maintaining those personal connections with her kindergarten through fifth grade students is what’s most important.
“They don’t want to just go on the computer and there’s work,” said Blitek. “So I found that by adding a weekly PE – I call it a PE update and hello from Mrs. Blitek – they know every week when they get their link for PE they can see and hear me.”
The PE teacher’s lesson plans have even inspired one of her students to create their very own workouts.
Kindergartner Hannah Mudd created “Hannah Workout Time” to help her family stay strong and fit at home.
Chris Werve, Jefferson Junior High
Chris Werve has been a teacher for six years, but this school year marks his first in Naperville.
Once he learned how to adjust his teaching style to fit the District 203 curriculum at Jefferson Junior High, the pandemic hit and the band teacher had to learn a new way of teaching all over again.
“It’s been a completely new challenge doing that, but also I think trying to approach things from a different way this way has made me a better teacher as well,” said Werve.
Including rehearsals over Zoom, his musicians in training have also been able to do more written work like note naming and ear training exercises that they usually don’t get to do in class.
The school parade and spring concert may have had to be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean his seventh and eighth graders had to put their instruments away.
“One of my activities last week was to do an at home concert for your family where they play their parts for the spring concert at home,” said Werve. “So they had their concert, just in a little bit of a different setting.”
The pandemic has disrupted school routines but the teachers still see the positive in it all.
“Through adverse times like this you can develop your skill as a musician or as an artist or as a writer or as whatever you want it to be,” said Werve. “But take the time to find something you love and get really good at it.”
“I know they’re rocking it so I want them to know that they’re awesome, they’re superstars and I can’t wait until we’re back together next year to be able to have fun together,” said Blitek.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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