‘We miss them’: Spokane teachers leverage technology to reach students

SPOKANE, Wash.– Spokane teachers are getting creative to reach their students while schools are shut down.

Garfield Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mandy Fyhrie converted her attic bedroom into her temporary classroom. Wedged between her spare bed and a vacuum, she’s able to record YouTube videos and hold Zoom video calls with some of her students.

While this has been a challenging time, Fyhrie is also focused on the good.

“I miss my kids. I know they miss us. I miss their families,” Fyhrie said. “They’re our families, too. And we love them. So, it’s been hard. But, it’s also been really positive.”

She’s referencing the sweet moments she’s shared with students through video calls. It’s been a similar story for Garfield first grade teacher Gabi VanderBrink. She described students giving the classroom tours of their homes and introducing everyone to their pets during the video calls.

“Our first class meeting was absolutely hilarious and the cutest thing in the whole world,” VanderBrink said.

The lessons that these teachers have aren’t mandatory. They know not all kids have access to the same technology and other resources, although many students are relying on District 81’s laptop checkout program.

“My goal is to provide as much learning as possible, knowing that it’s all optional,” Fyhrie said. “I don’t expect kids to have new learning, but I’m going to provide it anyway.”

District 81 is keeping up with meals, too. Spokane Public Schools is offering grab-and-go breakfast and lunch at 24 sites across the city Monday through Friday. Buses are even making drop-offs in some neighborhoods.

All of this is a way to bridge the gap so until everyone can be together again.

SPS will stay closed through at least May 4, in compliance with Governor Jay Inslee’s stay home order.

RELATED:Spokane Public Schools to stay closed through May 4 in compliance with stay home order