NJPCSA was recently asked by a media outlet to identify some stories about individuals from our public charter school communities who had gone above and beyond during the pandemic. We received this amazing submission from parent Maria Pyshkina to recognize 4th grade teacher, Emily Killea at Elysian Charter School, Hoboken, NJ.
As a working mother of two, I was so very grateful to have an educator who I could trust with guiding my child through the difficulties of first, remote, then hybrid school days, with unwavering attention, care, patience and discipline. Emily Killea, my son’s 4th grade teacher managed to create a very stable learning environment which provided her students with a sense of normalcy and personal attention during this challenging year.
Every hour of every day she monitored the progress of each of her students and would reach out immediately if she felt that the child’s interest was slipping or he/ she was not doing their best. She would then suggest solutions of what could be done to get the learning process back on track. She worked with parents to address the needs of every child, and not just in terms of academic growth but overall development as well. For example, while a strong student, my son often lacks confidence; he also has been greatly missing the social interaction of a classroom. Emily suggested an additional weekly (zoom) meeting, after school hours, where she would meet with a small group of 2-3 students from his class so that they could interact in a small group setting and help one another. Each child who participated felt acknowledged and Emily engaged them in such a way so that each student was able to lean on their strengths. Using games, quests, etc. they helped each other and the meeting did not feel like an extra class but as an exciting play date. My son looked forward to it every week.
This is only one of many examples that made me feel extremely lucky to have had Emily as my son’s teacher this year. I know that other parents share this sentiment. Teachers like Emily made it possible for us not just to survive through the pandemic, but to have our children learn, grow, discover and enjoy – and this, I think, is an outstanding achievement. For all these reasons, I wanted to recognize Emily for her absolute commitment to being present and engaging every single day of this challenging year.