ANNA - Like many in her profession, Anna Middle School teacher Christian Gober misses her students tremendously.
When she saw news stories about elementary school teachers visiting their students, she was jealous that she couldn’t do the same thing.
Or could she?
Elementary teachers typically have no more than 30 students. Gober, who teaches 7th and 8th grade STEM classes, has more than 150.
Still, after discussing the idea with her husband, she decided to give it a try.
The first step was to make a trip to Walmart for a poster board, which she decorated with a message for students. Then she found an app to help her find the most efficient way to reach each home.
Armed with the tools she needed, she asked students via their online platform if they would be interested in a “honk and hi” from their teacher. The response was overwhelming.
“When I saw how pumped up they were, it got me even more pumped up,” Gober said.
It took Gober three hours to input all of the addresses into her phone. When she finished, it said the trip would take four hours.
The next morning, she loaded her two young boys in the car, packed a few snacks and headed north to Denison around 9 a.m. Her last stop was in McKinney around 7:30 at night.
“It was awesome, and the kids were so excited,” she said. “They had big smiles on their faces. Some of them cried and some parents even cried. Some wanted to run over and hug me but couldn’t.”
With safety an obvious concern, Gober was careful to keep her distance and observe all CDC guidelines. The meetings were short and there was no physical contact.
Still, the chance for a brief in-person greeting was special for students, parents and herself.
“It was physically exhausting, and it was emotionally exhausting because I would see them and get all excited but then I’d start realizing how much I missed them,” she said. “I was trying to keep it together and ended up crying a little as I left each stop.”
Some parents confided to her that their children were depressed being away from their friends and classes.
When Gober returned home that evening, she had tons of messages from students thanking her for making them feel special.
According to Gober, at-home learning is going well all things considered. Anna ISD already utilizes many online platforms, making the transition somewhat easier.
Still, for a teacher who loves to give students a hand-on experience, teaching in a fully remote environment is a challenge.
Gober has been a teacher for a dozen years - the last two years of them in Anna. Over the past two months, she says that she’s worked harder than at any other point in her life.
That work is in addition to her new role as home schoolteacher for her own kindergartner and second grader.
Despite the fact that she is a tech teacher who teaches app design, she admits to sometimes being frustrated with the multiple platforms that she has to work with every day.
However, she remains committed to teaching because she believes it's what God wants her to do, and she doesn’t want to let him down.
Vising students was just another way for her to reach them in spite of all that is going on in the world today.
“It was quite an ordeal, but it was totally worth it,” she said.