Steve Summers, head coach of the varsity tennis team and a biology teacher at Warren Central High School, is confident about the fate of students for the rest of the semester, but his personal transition from the classroom to online has been difficult.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, all Mississippi schools transitioned to distance learning, and as of April 14, Gov. Tate Reeves announced schools would be closed for the rest of the semester.
“There is no one in the world more social than teachers,” Summers said.
As a biology teacher, he teaches a state tested class. Even though state tests for all high schools have been canceled, he has office hours from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for students to call him with questions. Grade Results, an online learning service, is providing the assignments to students.
“It is a blessing and a curse,” he said. “It is a blessing because our government is making those exceptions for our students. However, I did not quite get finished with my curriculum, but Grade Results has been a good substitute,” Summers said.
Summers also coaches varsity tennis. He is disheartened that the season had to end so soon.
“From a coaching standpoint, I hate not working with kids because that is how I got into teaching,” he said.
He is also saddened for all seniors in spring sports such as baseball, softball, golf, track and field, and tennis.
“As a coach, our relationship with our athletes is different from our relationships with our students,” he said. “We work with the athletes outside of the four walls of academia.”
Summers is also the father of three children, and two of them are in elementary school. He feels that structure is what makes his family run smoothly. The whole family wakes up at 7:30 a.m., and by 8:30 a.m., the kids are working: 45 minutes of class, a break and repeat.
“My daughter is finished with all of her Grade Results assignments with really high marks,” he said.
As a parent, he is concerned with the lack of social interaction that his kids usually receive at school.
“Some of the best conflict resolutions in people’s life happens in the classroom,” Summers said.
Principals and teachers are working hard to help their students excel in their online classes and to end the semester on a positive note. The Vicksburg Warren School District is posting frequent Facebook updates and videos from teachers and even from Superintendent Chad Shealy.
“Now, more than ever, it is important for us to listen to our students, parents, teachers, administrators and our community,” Shealy said in recent video.