Shelby County Schools teachers prepare for first day of virtual school

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools’s virtual school year begins Monday, and WREG got a firsthand look at how teachers are getting ready for a virtual classroom.

The supplies are ready, and the computers are set up. And, for the first-time, 2nd grade teacher Ciara Slade-Trejo is preparing her classroom for the first day of school, without students at desks.

“It’s been a lot of long days, but we have made a lot of progress,” Trejo said. “It’s been really satisfying to be on the learning end of education.”

She instead will be teaching via the internet to students at their homes or other remote locations.

“I have my laptop up so I can model and show my power points so the kids can see what they need to see,” Trejo said.

The pandemic has Shelby County School students going back to all virtual classes. Teachers will have the option of being in their school classroom or their own homes.

There are 65 educators here Hickory Ridge Elementary School, and principal James Gordon says only 15 chose to teach from home.

“Those teachers that will be in the building they just feel like it will be more comfortable and more beneficial. They have the resources right at their fingertips,” Gordon said.

Sylvia Cooper is a Spanish-speaking science and social studies teacher. She believes being in the classroom sends a message

“I wanna show the students that I wanna be here for them,” Cooper said. “And I want them to be here. I think by working from the classroom sort of displays that.”

But in the age of COVID, the number of teachers who chose virtual and the number who are at home still leaves SCS searching for more teachers.

“We started out with over 5,800 vacancies. Currently, we have 99% of those vacancies filled,” said William Johnson with SCS Human Resources.

He says they have about 65 teaching vacancies remaining, and they should be filled soon.

But virtual or not, one thing that doesn’t change is the passion these teachers have for the kids whose lives they impact.

“It always came back to teaching and giving that back to the students who need it. So, I really look forward to being able to do that even if it is digitally,” Trejo said.

The Shelby County Schools system is not requiring students to wear uniforms as they attend classes virtually, but they are asking them to be presentable.

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