Teacher Spotlight: Pitt County English teacher also helps students with pandemic challenges

School Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Nine on Your Side is highlighting teachers across Pitt County who work tirelessly to educate students while facing a global pandemic.

Jessica Denton is an eighth-grade English teacher at E.B. Aycock Middle School. She helps students make the transition to high school easier. She is now able to interact with her students face to face in the classroom.

“There wasn’t ever a time to really recover from last year,” Denton said about the coronavirus pandemic. “So just not having that time to relax and chill before coming back into it. It’s just been a lot. I mean it’s great. But it’s been a lot.”

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However, the return to in-person learning brings new challenges.

“A lot of our students are struggling with that social aspect because there’s a lot of maturing that happens between sixth grade and eighth grade and when you aren’t here to interact with each other, that doesn’t happen as quickly,” Denton said.

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Denton wants people to understand that she doesn’t just have to focus on her students’ education, she also worries about what’s going on when they leave the classroom.

“I have students that are from a two-parent household and some that have parents they’ve never met,” Denton said. “I have students that are from financially stable homes and I have students that don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

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“I think people forget that it’s not just the kids come in, you give a lesson and then they leave. You have to take into account all of those things and you have to take into account every kids that’s sitting in your room and have systems in place so that each child gets what they need so that they can be successful.”

While COVID-19 has changed the world of education, it hasn’t changed the passion teachers like Denton have.

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“It’s made teaching harder,” Denton said. “It’s made this job harder. But I still love it. I love being able to come to work and be with my students.”

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