Brianna Johnson at Pine Tree Academy

What a “Card-Carrying Extrovert” Learned from Teaching Online

Brianna Johnson and two Pine Tree Academy students. Photo by The Tiffany Studio, Brunswick, Maine.

The pandemic hit and in a matter of days, teachers across the globe scrambled to transition to online teaching. My fiancée, Brianna, was one of them. As the high school science teacher for Pine Tree Academy, an exceptional Pre-K to 12th grade Christian school in Freeport, she now needed to teach science via a computer screen. Pine Tree responded quickly to the pandemic and was prepared for online classes within two days of school closing. Working from home may sound like fun for many, but Brianna is a card-carrying extrovert. Living by herself and being away from her students—the lifeblood of her job—she did not take the quarantine well.

I was helpless in all of this, working 7,909 miles away in Guam. As COVID was threatening the Pacific islands, I opted to return to the States to “save” my fiancée. I can’t help laughing here because Brianna is a strong, independent woman. But I was on my way, determined to help her in any way I could. I arrived, and in less than a week, Maine went into lockdown. Realizing our June wedding was not likely to occur, we went into our backyard and said, “I do.”

Choosing remote learning instead of ending the semester early was challenging on multiple levels. Pine Tree has a rigorous academic program with a number of extracurricular activities, none of which could happen anymore. Along with the other teachers, Brianna had to find the balance between learning standards and each student’s ability to learn from home, while also being mindful of their screen time. Thankfully, Pine Tree was able to continue offering high quality, online education throughout the pandemic. By the end of the semester though, Brianna’s focus went to helping the students that had “checked out” to catch up.

Since then, I’ve talked to a number of teachers and they all agree: K-12 education does not work well online. Brianna states it this way: “Transmission of information is important, but that can easily happen online. The transformational relationships forged as we manipulate and use that information ultimately comprise an education worth having.” This is why she is excited to get back into the classroom this fall. She realizes it will be very different, but at least they’ll all be together again.

Pine Tree hopes to continue thriving through COVID because of the small class sizes and the low student-to-teacher ratio. They are located right off I-295 in Freeport. If you know someone within driving range of the school that would like a Christian education for their children, please contact the school and setup a private tour.

For many of Brianna’s students, this time of COVID has been the hardest of their life. I hope they can grow from the experience and jump back into their educations with an open mind and heart.

Established in 1961, Pine Tree Academy is accredited by the National Council for Private School Accreditation, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and Adventist Accreditation Association.

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