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The pandemic has taught hard lessons to Las Vegas educators

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From public and mental health monitors to IT troubleshooters, today’s teachers wear many hats as students cope with a pandemic soon to enter its third year.

State of Nevada sat down with front-line educators and experts for a discussion on what life is like in the classroom today and what it will be like tomorrow.

One thought that came up frequently was the grit shown by all parties over the course of the pandemic.

“It takes a lot of resiliency,” said Michelle Cruz Crawford, principal of C.C. Ronnow Elementary School, “and one of the things that I found is that our students are the most resilient of all.”

She said that while at her school “our kids are about a year behind academically,” she remains optimistic that the toughness already shown by families will allow the students to catch up through enriched education.

Former Clark County School District administrator Jennifer Jaeger, currently vice president of the Clark County Public Education Foundation Leadership Institute, agreed, saying educators can continue with what works even as the classroom situation returns to something more normal.

“We need to move forward and take those lessons learned,” she told State of Nevada. “ So I think it's it's taking those lessons, it's taking those opportunities, and helping educators figure out how to do better moving forward.”

The pandemic also required educators and parents to work more in partnership with each other, said Katie Dockweiler, an education expert at Nevada State College.

“It provided us all those opportunities to grow and reevaluate our practices and how we serve our students in our schools, and how we engage parents as part of in part of the learning process,” she said.

And the panelists asked that people remember that many teachers are parents, too, and the pandemic has put stress on those families.

“We have to find a way to put our families first and our, our mental well-being and our self-care first, and that's hard to do,” said C.C. Ronnow Elementary teacher Will Copeland. “Sometimes you have to turn off the phone, you have to close the computer, you have to put that grading away and you have to spend time with those you love.”

Will Copeland, teacher, C.C. Ronnow Elementary School; Michelle Cruz Crawford, principal, C.C. Ronnow Elementary School; Katie Dockweiler, director, Nevada State College School-Based Mental Health Grant; Jennifer Jaeger, vice president, Clark County Public Education Foundation Leadership Institute

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Dave Berns, now a producer for State of Nevada, recently returned to KNPR after having previously worked for the station from 2005 to 2009.