‘Teacher of the Week’ uses newscast to connect students during pandemic

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HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — When the coronavirus pandemic forced Pender County Schools to shift to remote learning this spring, many North Topsail Elementary School students felt isolated at home.

“I don’t really like doing remote work because the teacher isn’t there or anything,” said fifth grader Kylie Beecher. “I don’t like being away from school.”

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Even though they couldn’t see each other in person, the school’s daily newscast, called the “News Crew,” kept students excited and feeling a sense of community.

“We don’t see each other when we do it but when its edited all together, we get to see how everybody is doing and it kind of brings us together just with one video,” said fifth grader Max Lambert.

Chase Robinson anchors the school’s newscast.

“It gives you an extra little [bit of] pride after a successful day of work,” Robinson said. “You are excited to go do news and maybe after news, you’re excited to go school because you’re excited that you nailed that one segment.”

During remote learning, students recorded their individual segments at home and emailed them to music teacher Bethany Borden who edited everything together.

“I felt very disconnected because I wasn’t in Zoom meeting with students, I wasn’t able to work with them the way I wanted to but doing the news helped me feel connected to this school,” said Borden.

A graduate of University of Central Florida in Orlando, Borden has taught music 15 years and its her third year at the school. While she couldn’t teach music when students were off campus, she used her passion for technology to keep the daily newscast going on.

We picked her as our WWAY ‘Teacher of the Week’ because of her commitment to keep students connected during the pandemic.

“Everything about education since March 13th has been outside the box,” said NTES Principal Jill Robertson. “I’m thankful to be with talented people like Bethany and our other staff that have really done a wonderful job going outside the box going outside their comfort zone and really creating something amazing like our news.”

Students say they enjoy being in Borden’s class and working on the newscast.

“When I look back, I’ll probably think how lucky I am to have Ms. Borden as a teacher,” Robinson said. “She’s just so nice and she makes everything fun — everything is just fun when we do stuff with her.”

His kind words got Borden a little choked up.

“You do have those teachers in your life that guide your life, and if I can be that to one student, then I feel like I’ve done my job, but it also made me tear up because these kids make me a better person and a better teacher and I will never forget them,” Borden said.

She says being picked as ‘Teacher of the Week’ is definitely a moment she won’t forget and a highlight of her career.

“Some people have their talents in the arts and music and I’m so thankful that we have Ms. Borden here to hone in on those talents and help the children find their passion and to find what they enjoy,” Robertson said. “It takes people like Bethany Borden to help those kids develop those skills and to find their dream.”

Some of the kids now dream of working in journalism like Max Lambert.

“Sometimes, when I do it, I do think about what like you guys do — like waking up early to get it done and putting it out to the world, thinking maybe I can do that one day,” he said.

If you know a teacher who’s doing remarkable things in the classroom, we want to know about them. Click here to nominate someone you know. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card thanks to our sponsoring partner, Down East Heating and Air Conditioning.