By Alexandra Touliatos
First semester of this year has been strange enough for those of us accustomed to St. Mary’s life, but new teachers, Mrs. Samia Khouzam and Mr. Tony Brooks, have had to adjust not only to the new environment but online teaching as well.
Khouzam taught French for six years and came to St. Mary’s after the closing of Immaculate Conception High School. She said, “[Learning] a language is all about levels of knowledge… The content will always meet the students where they are regardless of platform.”
Brooks, the new chemistry teacher, taught for 30 years and spent the last 20 years at White Station. He said, “I have adjusted the content a good bit… but I am leaving out things that I have never felt were extremely important in the big picture… It has made me more efficient, you might say.”
Beyond the content of their courses, all teachers — old and new — have had to adapt to online learning.
Brooks said, “I came in with little experience with the technology that we are using, and it has been a steep, sometimes rocky, learning curve.”
The new schedule of asynchronous classes has also added its own share of complications as teachers may not see all of their students for several days at a time.
“[Recording] lessons is nothing short of strange since I hate the sound of my voice on a recording,” Brooks said.
Khouzam understands the importance of connection amidst having students online and in-person. She said, “I try to allow them to see each other and say hello so that people at home interact with those on-campus.”
Brooks also tries to connect with his students by making an effort to get to know them and by sharing his own life experiences that he thinks they may find relatable.
While the first semester has been tough, Khouzam said that she appreciates how flexible the school and the student body are as a whole. While Brooks has enjoyed the year so far and getting to know his students, he said that he is looking forward to winter break.
“St. Mary’s has an amazing spirit of community. Everyone here is extremely helpful and kind. I feel supported and welcome, and for this, I am truly grateful,” Khouzam said.
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