In praise of Oakland teacher

Published 11:10 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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To the editor:

I am moved to share my grateful thanks for the efforts of Melissa Phillips, an educator at Oakland Elementary School.

Mrs. Phillips is an academic coach at Oakland Elementary this school year. She was my older son’s fifth-grade teacher a couple of years ago and the Battle of the Books coach for my fifth-grade son, Bauer Haden, this season. So we are and have been fans of this passionate, dedicated and exemplary teacher for many years.

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Mrs. Phillips deserves praise and acknowledgment for her efforts to keep Oakland students learning during this very difficult end of the school year. Quarantine has not been easy for anyone but has added an additional burden to teachers.

Particularly as she is not the assigned fifth-grade teacher of these students, the gift of her time and experience is commendable.

Mrs. Phillips has led a voluntary, online Zoom class four days a week to maintain math and reading skills for fifth-grade students.

She assigns small exercises both for “homework” and during class time. She comments and responds to submitted work through Google Classroom. My son is engaged and involved during her class time.

This dedication over and above a printed handout cannot be overvalued.

I also appreciate her creating small student work classrooms on Zoom so the students may have peer discussions while working problems. I feared peer group problem solving would be lost in online learning.

I am grateful for her efforts to continue the book club. Five days a week, she hosts an online book club where she reads to students as they read in the book, along with her, in Zoom. She takes her personal time to deliver and pick up these books to the porches of private homes. We are so grateful that she continued the program.

It is exemplary teachers like this that forever impact a student’s learning success. Certainly, she has modeled work dedication and service to community even for me as a parent.

We appreciate the trials this quarantine brings to our teachers and administrators but know you will rise to the challenge for the next school year.

Kim Haden