‘She Made Me Feel Like I Wasn’t Entirely Alone’: 10 Students and Families Pay Tribute to the Teachers Who Helped Them Endure the Pandemic

ByLaura Fay


This Teacher Bought Tablets for Students in Need — Who Weren’t Even in Her Class 

Michalle Fain (instagram.com/teachingwithmi)

Michalle Fain
Nominated by parent Shnia Davis
Fourth grade, KIPP One Primary
Chicago, Illinois

When Michalle Fain learned her student Julius and his siblings were having trouble keeping up with their online classes because they didn’t have enough devices, she used her own money to purchase two tablets for the family.

Fain has always been “that teacher that just goes above and beyond,” said Julius’s mother Shnia Davis. Fain got a green screen to enhance her Zoom lessons, and “the way that she taught was… almost like the kids were watching a show,” Davis said. When she wasn’t teaching or making educational TikTok videos, Fain checked in with the family often to make sure they were getting the school lunches and helped replace Julius’s computer when it broke. “She really has a passion and a heart for these kids,” Davis said.

This Teacher Moved Out of Her Home So She Could Teach In Person 

Shameem Patel with her students before the pandemic hit last year.

Shameem Patel
Nominated by parent Stephanie Reyna
Second grade, KIPP Destiny Elementary School
Dallas, Texas

When her school resumed in-person classes last fall, second grade teacher Shameem Patel took a drastic step so she could be there for her students.

Patel moved out of the house she shares with her mother-in-law and husband into an apartment so she could see her students without putting the older woman at risk for COVID-19.

Since then she’s been living away from her family and teaching a class of 45 students — 11 in person and 34 at home.

Patel is like “one of those famous teachers that you see on Facebook and television” and think, this is the kind of teacher every kid should have, said Stephanie Reyna, whose daughter Arianna is in Patel’s class.

“Arianna is the middle child. She feels like she doesn’t get that attention from me,” Reyna said. “But Ms. Patel gave her that attention and she gave her that time. And she made her feel special… So I liked that she was helping me make Arianna feel that much better.”

This Teacher Makes Sure Her Second Graders Never Miss a Zoom

Porsha Hodge with one of her students.

Porsha Hodge 
Nominated by parent Cindy Gonzalez 
Second grade, KIPP Austin Comunidad
Austin, Texas

Cindy Gonzalez has been working at a clinic throughout the pandemic, which means her daughters have to manage their own remote school schedules.

Isabella, her second grader, was struggling to keep up until her teacher Porsha Hodge helped the family create a new routine. When it’s time for the live classes to start, Hodge calls or texts Gonzalez, who uses the cameras in her house to check whether Isabella is getting ready for class. Gonzalez can talk to her kids through the cameras, so she reminds Isabella to get logged into Zoom.

Hodge also takes time to call Gonzalez after the workday to let her know if her daughter has missed any assignments.

Gonzalez, who is a single mom, said Hodge saw her frustration and how much she wanted to help her daughter succeed in school, and “she put in a lot of effort to help me help Isabella.”

“I was so relieved,” Gonzalez said. “Because otherwise… I was about to give up.”

Read the full article here.