HERRIN — This week’s Orthopaedic Center of Southern Illinois MVT–Most Valuable Teacher Award–goes to Mrs. Valerie Frese, the seventh grade math, science, and STEM teacher at Herrin Junior High .
According to Frese, teaching during a pandemic has created learning opportunities for everyone.
“You give me math all day, I’ll be happy as could be,” Frese said. “Technology–even with being a teacher for like the last eight years, even I am having to learn with these students. ‘How do I do this again?’ I’m asking a student ‘can you help me?’ because they know more than I do, or they know certain shortcuts I can use.”
Frese believes the transition to technology has led to a much different style of teaching.
“I’m more hands on, so that’s been a huge change this year,” Frese said, “having to go from more hands on to electronic base, keeping things distanced and not paper based. Definitely with being a math teacher, that’s been a huge struggle because I want the kids actually doing steps, showing their work, I want the paper in front of me. I like grading it.”
One of the other big changes this year has been the schedule. Frese has had to pay extra attention because it changes every day. The compacted schedule has led to a change in approach.
“I’ll have one group I teach math, and then I’m having to repeat it the next day,” Frese said. “Then with science, I only see them once a week, and that’s really hard to cram so much in just that one class. Instead of taking an entire chapter, you’re picking and choosing: this is what they need to know, this is most important, these are the things I know I need to explain so they comprehend before I can move on. You now have to pick exactly what things are the most important for these students to know before they walk out of your classroom.”
Despite all the changes this year, Frese said one thing that hasn’t changed is when her students from previous years stop by to visit.
“I love it,” Frese said. “There are still certain things in the classroom they’ve made for me. They’re like ‘you kept that?’ I’m like ‘yes, because I knew you’d be coming back and checking.’ I love how they check in. They always have stories, something to tell.”
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