AUSTIN, Texas - Many students have been virtual learning for almost a whole year due to the pandemic. One Austin ISD teacher is going above and beyond for her virtual students by doing porch visits after hours to make sure those kids get that one-on-one interaction with their teacher that they’ve been missing for a while.
"It's part of who you are, like being a teacher really doesn't stop," said Paloma Gonzalez.
Paloma Gonzalez is a 1st-grade teacher at Becker Elementary. She says her students are very important to her, and that's why she sets time aside every school day to check in with her in person and virtual students to see how they're feeling.
"Usually, they are excited because it's their parents' birthday, but sometimes they're sad, especially the ones that are at home. They miss school," she said.
One of those students who told her she was upset was Gianna Altanero.
"Gianna was very upset, and she started crying," said Gonzalez.
Gianna's dad, David Niegsch, says she's been remote learning for almost a year now. She's been doing great, but it is starting to take a toll on her.
"She's missing her friends a lot. She's missing that one-on-one interaction," said Niegsch.
Gonzalez decided she was going to visit Gianna to make her feel better. "I think it's part of my job to reach or go to the places where the students are and make sure that they still have that connection with their teacher."
Gonzalez says she's done a porch visit for multiple virtual students throughout the school year. Gianna says she was very happy to see her teacher, and Gonzalez ended up spending an hour with her student. They worked on schoolwork, ate some cookies, and just talked.
"To have someone go, ‘I've worked all day, I've taught in person, I've taught online, and now I'm going to drive to your house and sit with your daughter for an hour', I really couldn't begin to describe how not only grateful we are, but thankful for that," said Niegsch.
Gonazlez says the point of her porch visits is to help the student.
"I am sure that it's helped her feel more connected and feel cared for. I'm hoping that it helps her just feel supported and loved," said Gonzalez.