ORANGE PARK, Fla. — As we prepare to send children back to school over the next couple of weeks, we have not forgotten how the COVID-19 pandemic made it a much more challenging and unpredictable school year.
But teachers didn’t let that stop them from making it the absolute best experience they could for their students.
In this special report, Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole introduces us to one of them, Meghan Grybb, Clay County’s 2022 Teacher of The Year:
“It is a humbling thing and it wasn’t expected,” but Clay County 2022 Teacher of The Year is a title Meghan Grybb said she’s proud to have.
Grybb, teaches at Lakeside Elementary School in Orange Park.
“I’ve spent my whole career in Clay County, since I was 23 — set foot in my first classroom, here at Lakeside. So I was really excited. It took a little bit to soak in,” Grybb told Action News Jax.
The wife and mother of two spent 15 years teaching language arts for 4th and 5th graders. Then during the pandemic school year, she took on a new role in what was set already to be a challenging year.
Cole: “Walk me through what school was like during this pandemic year?”
“Well, um, coming into the last school year, it was really nerve-racking for me personally. I ended up actually taking a new position the day before school started, teaching the gifted students at school,” Grybb said.
Not only was she going into a new position, but she said she also felt like she was going into this new, unknown space and feeling.
“And things were changing, every single week, and it felt like almost every day, things were changing,” Grybb told Cole.
Grybb added that she taught students online and-in person last school year, at the same time.
“And the students that were online, I think the biggest challenge was making them feel like they were still a part of the class when they were at home,” Grybb said.
She said that meant going the extra mile to make sure her students would learn and have fun.
“We did a lot of hands-on activities in my class, stem activities, where I would put together a little packs of all the materials for their parents to come and pick-up so that they could do the activity at home — the same time we were doing the activity in school. Yeah, it was a lot of work to do that, but it was so worth it to see even the kids at home showing that enthusiasm!”
The Teacher of the Year said it was the positive attitude of her students and support from the parents that kept her going.
Cole: “I can tell that your students have learned a lot from you. So my question is, what do you think you’ve learned from your students this year?”
“I think the biggest word is resilience. It’s easy to be negative, it’s easy to be negative, in any job really, you know teachers have a lot piled on our shoulders. But to see students come in, like I said about my own kids, it was like the same for my students. They did not complain about wearing masks, they wore them because they were supposed to, and that was the rule. They walked three-feet apart in line like they were supposed to, they did what they were supposed to do and they got good grades,” Grybb explained.
As far as this upcoming school year goes, Grybb is feeling good about it.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit of a shocker when I have a full day of school, with students in my room for the whole day. And I’m not getting on my computer and trying to login to Google meetings throughout the day and getting online and posting the assignments,” Grybb said.
Now she’s ready to make her students proud all over again and the 2022 school year even better than the last.
“I’m excited to represent the teachers in our county,” Grybb said.
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