FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Throughout the pandemic, many teachers have had to adjust to teaching their classes as a virtual and in-person hybrid, but one Fort Wayne teacher has decided to forgo traditional schooling altogether in favor of going entirely virtual.
Teresa Vazquez had been teaching for about 16 years when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year. Then a middle school teacher for Fort Wayne Community Schools, Vazquez began searching for a job that would allow her to work exclusively from home.
“I was pursuing work that would allow me to stay home, stay safe because I’m older now in my mid-fifties and I have family members who have health conditions that if they were to get COVID, it could get very serious,” said Vazquez.
In searching for work from home jobs, she came across Chicago-based instruction technology company Elevate K-12. She currently teaches Spanish to students over 800 miles away at Monroe High School in Albany, Georgia. The transition was easy for her because she had previously taught virtual classes for college students.
“As a colllege professor, I taught online for many years. I’ve been teaching online since 2008 and so I was very used to teaching online, what it took, what kind of technical difficulties could arise, what kinds of challenges there would be in terms of managing a classroom, managing students’ involvement, participation, and all of that.”
Once she began teaching her Georgia class in August, she found she enjoyed the flexibility of virtual teaching.
“Having that flexibility allows me to do my work, do a good job, do the laundry, and also do the other things that are important in my life.”
Elevate K-12 was established in 2015 to help fill the gap for schools teaching with teacher shortages. Chief Operating Officer Kim said since the start of the pandemic they have heard from more schools as they tried to adapt to virtual learning. According to Kross, they believe the wider exposure to virtual learning could encourage more people to consider teaching as a career option.
“Whether it’s stay-at-home moms, retired teachers, or we just engaged in a partnership for military spouses, all of whom don’t necesarrily want to go back to the traditional classroom,” said Kross. “Especially as teaching continues to see the dwindling population of Millennials and Gen Z’s entering into that career path.”
Kross said believe their teaching model may inspire more teachers like Vazquez to consider going all virtual.
“We’re trying to make teaching exciting and fun again so that teachers can be anywhere and do what they love and educate students regardless of what zip code they’re in and what zipcode the students that need them are in.”