Mobile County teacher fills classroom with student cutouts

Mobile County

GRAND BAY, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile County Public Schools announced this week a phased return to the classroom, but some teachers have already taken initiatives to make sure students feel like they are already there.

As Christie Mason prepared for the school year starting without her students in the classroom, she knew things would be different.

“I just felt so lonely. And it was kind of sad knowing my students weren’t going to be here with me,” said Mason, a fifth grade teacher at Breitling Elementary.

She knew she wanted to find a way to make the distance of learning apart feel not so far. “I went ahead and assigned them a seat,” she said.

So she and Breitling Elementary’s librarian, Ms. Westbrook, printed out pictures of each of her students, put them in their seats, with a name tag. Mason explained, “I was also concerned would I be able to get to know them and learn their names just online.”

She showed her kids on the first day, that even if they weren’t there, they have a place in her homeroom.

“I just want students to know that even though they’re not here, they’re in my heart and they’re thought of every day. And that I miss them I wish they were here with me,” Mason said. She continued, “They absolutely loved knowing they already have a place here, so that made it a lot easier.”

Mason says it makes her feel more connected to them, but it is still not the same.

“We’re used to so much activity, and just hearing the hustle and bustle in the classroom and outside the hallway. I can put students in here, but it doesn’t cover that gap and that aspect of it,” said Mason.

And as MCPSS begins a phased return to the classroom next week, she says she will leave up any of her children who opt to continue remote learning. “My online kids are still going to be loved and get just as much attention as my at school kids. They still deserve it. Just because they’re in a different environment doesn’t mean that they should accept or be offered anything less,” Mason said.

Mason’s students are fifth graders, so they will have the option to return to school on Oct 5 with the school system’s phased plan.

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