Area teacher helps spanish-speaking students succeed despite pandemic challenges

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - To kick off National Teacher Appreciation Week, we are highlighting the great work of an english language teacher at Meadows Elementary School.

Barbara Wright has been a teacher for 32 years.

She said, ”This year has definitely been the most challenging year of all of my years of teaching.”

A school year marked by a global pandemic brought new obstacles Wright said she has never faced before.

”It was difficult. We were trying to find ways to help students while in remote and then coming back in person and trying to work with students when you have to maintain distance,” she said.

As an english language teacher, Wright works with Spanish-speaking students.

She said, ”Wearing a mask, they can’t really see your mouth when you’re trying to pronounce words for them and help them with different vocabulary words.”

No matter the odds stacked against her though, Nichole Johnson, Principal at Meadows Elementary School said Wright always found a way to help the students succeed.

”She works with a group of kids where there’s a language barrier and she sees those extra challenges that our parents and our kids face and is willing to bridge that gap and find a way, so that they still have access to an education,” Johnson added.

She said it doesn’t stop at innovation in the classroom. Wright also makes home visits and assists families with technology.

”That’s just her caring about others and it comes through in everything she does,” said Johnson.

While some say she goes above and beyond, Wright says it’s just part of being a teacher.

”Teachers anyway go beyond the job description, even when we’re not in a pandemic, because there’s so many ways that you can help students that just aren’t included in your job description,” Wright added.

She said watching her students persevere over the last year even reminded her why she loves teaching.

Wright said, ”When you see a student who is struggling with a concept or with an assignment and you’re able to help them work through that and see the light bulb turn on, it’s just the best feeling ever.”

Johnson said early on in the pandemic Wright also made masks for all the staff at Meadows Elementary School and continues to help out anywhere she can.

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