Local first-year teacher looks back on COVID-ridden school year

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HEWITT, Texas – The 2020-21 school year has been a challenging one for anybody involved – but for Lisa Ruffcorn, it’s all she knows in her career.

Ruffcorn is a 2019 Baylor graduate who is now a science teacher at Midway Middle School. She has been reflecting on a chaotic year.

“It’s definitely been a crazy year,” Ruffcorn said.

She has seen her time in the classroom as a learning experience not just for her students – but for her, as well.

“It’s been awesome to build those relationships with students, because both the students and I were getting back to talking to people,” Ruffcorn said. “I feel really close to my eighth graders just because I feel like, both of us, we’re figuring out how to be social again.”

Through the constant changes, the students have returned the love.

A group of them play cards with Ruffcorn every afternoon and have such respect for her they forgot she was a first year teacher.

“She has so much control over her classroom,” eighth grader Jade Washington said. “With her, it’s like she knows what she’s doing, and she has us all under control.”

Even with the warm welcome, there have been challenges right from the start.

“In August, they were inside for six months straight, and some of them didn’t have the structure of the classroom anymore,” Ruffcorn said. “Also, sometimes it’s hard to learn from the last three months when you’re doing it all virtual, and we’ve never done anything like that.”

Through the sleepless nights and rough mornings, Ruffcorn thinks about the 1,300 reasons she has to keep coming back to work.

“I have an awesome group of students this year. And to be able to see them every day, and to be able to teach them, and having wonderful co-workers, they were what kept me going,” Ruffcorn said. “Sometimes it wasn’t always the want to teach, but just to see everybody at school.”

Just like in any other year, this rookie doesn’t want to say goodbye to her first-ever class.

“I’m so sad to see them go,” Ruffcorn said. “If I could follow them to high school, I would.”

Midway ISD’s last day of school is this Friday.

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