SEMINOLE, Fla. — A new school year always brings with it new challenges, but as the pandemic continues to be a constant in the lives of millions of people, teachers are adjusting to their new norm as they prepare to welcome students back for the 2021-2022 school year.
Abbey Macha is one of them. The Delaware transplant will enter her first year of teaching at Bardmoor Elementary School in Seminole.
Her specialty is working with children with autism. Like any new teacher, she has her first-day jitters but is ready for the challenge.
"Definitely nervous but the administration, the staff, everyone has been super helpful and welcoming so I think that has helped a lot," Macha said.
The pandemic began while she was finishing her senior year of college. Even with the unknown of what her future teaching world would look like she said she never thought of changing professions.
"It never crossed my mind. When it all happened I think it was a shock to everyone and it was something that you just kind of had to go with," Macha said.
When students walk into her classroom on August 11 they'll be greeted with bright colors, a reading nook, and even a quiet space where they can retreat to if they get overwhelmed.
"We have posters to teach kids how to calm down. How to express their feelings and they can choose different items to kind of play with or just relax for a little bit until they're ready to come back and join the class," Macha said.
Of course like so many schools and classrooms across the Tampa Bay area, sanitizing will be the new norm before, during, and after school. Her class will be intimate with just six students and learning areas have been made into pods to account for social distancing.
"It's important to remain positive but you do never know what's going to happen, you kind of just have to roll with it," Macha said.
Macha is one of a few specialty teachers at Bardmoor Elementary School. The school's principal, Leigh Brown said the search for qualified specialty teachers continues to be a challenge, especially for those who work with children with autism.
"It's a more intensive certification for teachers and so it's a little bit more difficult," Brown said. "It is hard and you want to not just hire anyone. You need someone that's the right fit for our students and so that's what I'm always looking for is who is going to be the best fit for the student's that I have."
Bardmoor has an opening for a teacher with autism teaching certifications. The district is also in need of more teachers as well as school nurses.
For more information about jobs within Pinellas County Schools visit Pinellas County Schools by clicking here.