Alumna adjusts to a new world as a teacher

Cierra Thomas, a 2018 FAMU grad, teaches 10th grae at Gadsden County High. Photo courtesy Thomas

With the rise in coronavirus cases across the state of Florida, many parents were worried about sending their kids back to school.

Second-year teacher and 2018 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University graduate Cierra Thomas had a successful first day of school this past Monday at Gadsden County High School.

Thomas teaches 10th grade English and describes her first day as being very different from her first-year of teaching.

“This year everyone was covered in masks and the hallways were practically empty,” Thomas said. “My first period I had two physical kids in my classroom, last year I had about 27.”

Due to the reduced number of students in her classroom, Thomas hasn’t experienced any behavior issues or problems keeping students six feet apart. Surprisingly, parents didn’t express any concerns to Thomas prior to school starting.

“I believe that my students’ parents were just desperate to go back to work,” Thomas said. “Although they care about their child’s safety, even if they did have concerns there wasn’t much that they could do about it.They sent their child to school with as much protective gear as they could.”

Thomas doesn’t agree with the decision of sending kids back to school for in-personinstruction.

“We all know that kids don’t listen and don’t take things seriously, but I do understand why they made the decision,” Thomas said.

 Just like the rest of the teachers around the state Thomas had to make some major adjustments to lesson plans to accommodate both in-person and virtual students. Thomas shared some pros and cons that can come out of this academic year.

“The positive thing about the kids that are coming to school is that they have one-on-one time with me and I am able to explain things in depth,” Thomas said. “The students online have to wait until my office hours or wait until one person on the webcam speaks. It’s a bit of a longer process. Kids aren’t just going to scream out questions, they have to type it in the chat. This can make students timid and shy of asking for help.”

Pamela Jones, principalat Gadsden County High School, believes that Thomas is doing an exceptional job handling both remote and face to face students.

“What stands out most is her drive and tenacity,” Jones said. “She is a go-getter and does what it takes to get the job done.”

Gadsden County High School hasn’t said what the method of instruction will be for the spring semester. According to  Gadsden County Schools’ website, the school board will take guidance from the Florida Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor COVID-19.