After being named the school’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, physics instructor Joseph Estevez said he recently learned something that he should have realized long ago.
“I learned that students like their tutors, not because they are necessarily better at teaching or know more, but because they fill in the gaps that naturally will exist whenever you are learning something for the first time,” he said. “I think if anything, this [pandemic] experience has emphasized the value a tutor or mentor adds. Every student should have a tutor for every class or sport they take part in. That could be a live human, a peer, or a favorite YouTuber, but hearing the same thing from a new voice can really make a huge difference.”
Each year, faculty members vote for the school’s Teacher of the Year.
“I’m really excited for Mr. Estevez,” biology teacher Angela Feldbush said. “I think science teachers have been Teacher of the Year for the last three years, which I think is a great recognition of our science department. We do a lot in science that I think really involves kids and gets them hands-on learning. And I think it’s great that we’re recognizing the hard work that that takes. I know he’s going to represent us well when he goes on to the next level of competition.”
Estevez will next compete against the winners from all other Brevard Public Schools for the county Teacher of the Year award.
“I’m both surprised and honored,” Estevez said. “I know there are so many amazing teachers at West Shore that work hard every single day and do truly amazing things that are much more deserving than I am.”
Estevez provided much of the technology training as teachers returned to school with the additional requirement of teaching e-learners. However, he gives most of the credit to those who helped him.
“Mrs. Feldbush and [chemistry teacher Rob] Klassen are much more well-versed on Google Classroom, Zoom, and such,” he said. “They did most of the heavy lifting in getting our presentations ready for teachers and they were the ones who led the lessons for the faculty. I essentially served as the tutor for our staff.”
Feldbush also was part of the team of teachers and staff that helped get the faculty ready for the e-learning school year.
“There was an extra week between the time that we would have normally come back to school when we started the online learning,” she said. “So in that period of time, we set up training for teachers who were not comfortable with the technology so that they could come in and learn how to use Google Classroom. For Google Meets, Zoom and Focus, we had individual workshops. And then when we started to get the feeling that we were going to have kids learning online, then we set up more training at the beginning of the school year. So we were here for two weeks before the kids came back. And during that time, the district offered a lot of support and training, just online modules that teachers could go through individually. And that was helpful for teachers.”
Feldbush also said it is important to have a faculty core group that other teachers can rely on to help them get through the struggles of online learning.
“[Teachers] have really been supporting one another,” she said. “And then I think the other thing that’s been really important is that as everybody gets more comfortable and familiar with the technology. They’ve really started to support one another. So even teachers who started out not feeling great still have developed these skills and these strengths, that they’re able to reach out and help other teachers and support them. So it’s really been a great climate of teachers supporting one another and trying to help.”
By Jason Dela Cruz