My name is Stephanie Rinaudo, I am a student at The New School and this is my documentary on school during the Coronavirus Pandemic. My mom works in a high school, so growing up I often found myself surrounded by teachers. I like to joke that I’ve been in high school all my life, but it is the truth. Growing up surrounded by educators was probably the best thing that could have happened for me. Every teacher/educator I came across offered me memories and life lessons that I still cherish to this day. There is nothing better than being surrounded by such loving and caring people. I learned at a very young age that teachers are truly the heart and soul of education. A good teacher can last in a student’s memories for the rest of their lives. It is this love that inspired me to find work in two high school drama/musical theatre programs.
In March of 2020 when the pandemic hit the U.S. I suddenly found myself unemployed, like many others in America. I am still unemployed currently, heading into 2021 and the money is not where my concern is. My students are some of my favorite people in the world and are so important to me.
Not seeing my students every week, being able to chat, laugh, and see them grow breaks my heart. That heartbreak is where I found my inspiration for this documentary. Although teachers are still working, I hear stories about how school has drastically changed. Personally, I have heard stories from teachers and students that just make me sad for the loss everyone is experiencing. This project gave me an opportunity to hear stories from teachers from other schools and grades, as well as gave me an opportunity to hear more from my students.
Something I was not able to include but was brought to my attention was information about underprivileged communities. Nicole Switzer says “There are still 60,000 kids who don’t have technology and these kids are brown. Not only were they in poverty areas before this pandemic, but now this whole entire school year they are going to be a step behind. We have kids living in shelters who don’t have technology, who don’t have wifi, who don’t have anything. How are they getting their education? How are they staying on par with the other 15-year-olds who they are going to be competing for jobs with, later in the workforce?” There are so many students out there that are being affected in different ways. Ways that we can’t imagine or haven’t thought of. Who helps them? I know that school right now isn’t optimal. It definitely sucks and isn’t what I wish it to be. Nicole made me realize though, that there are people out there that can’t even receive their education at this point during their lives and it’s not fair. There is not one person who isn’t being affected in one way or another by the pandemic, but the school system is really taking a hit.
I made this documentary in honor of all the teachers who have found themselves working the front lines. They are putting their lives at risk for the progress of students. I would especially like to dedicate this to my mother. She is the reason I am where I am today and feel so connected to the school system and helping students. She is the best person I know and is changing students' lives for the better. She opened my eyes to the truth about teaching.
Teachers truly are superheroes. Thank you, teachers. We love you.