KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mitch Cloud thinks he has the best job in the world.
“This is like the best job ever! I love this job,” he said.
Cloud is a counselor at Fairview Elementary School in Olathe. He works with students in grades pre-k through fifth in individual, small group and classroom settings.
“Even as an adult, it’s hard to know what you’re feeling,” Cloud said.
His students felt many emotions when last school year turned virtual over spring break because of COVID-19.
“It was scary not knowing what was going to happen, but then also really sad because we missed our students, our community here, and having to make that massive shift to online learning,” Cloud said.
But the counselor thrived online. He was one of about 400 teachers who recorded new lessons on video every week at every grade level in every subject for students across the district to watch.
Cloud’s videos and lessons were geared toward the youngest elementary students. He sang songs, recorded puppet shows and invented characters.
"My jokes don’t land very good with my friends, but they land great with first and second graders,” Cloud said with a laugh.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Olathe is offering students the choice to enroll virtually or come back to traditional in-person classes with new health and safety guidelines.
But the district is changing its virtual learning system based on its experiences last semester.
For one, each teacher will record their own lessons. All assignments and videos will be on one platform: Synergy. Teachers will take attendance during online classes and give students a participation grade for online exercises. Teachers will also offer virtual office hours where parents and students can get extra help.
Cloud said there is one thing he focused on last year which will be front and center again this semester.
“Relationships, relationships, relationships. We really want to make sure we’re connecting with kids and helping them feel connected in this time of isolation,” he explained.
Across the Kansas City area, many school districts are using a different platform for online teaching. Many Missouri schools are using FuelEd by Launch, a program from the Springfield School District. Shawnee Mission is using Canvas, as is North Kansas City and Ray-Pec. Seesaw is a popular platform for elementary students.
“We have a lot of strength in our students. And a lot of strength in our parents and families,” Cloud said.
No matter if students are online or in his classroom, Cloud is confident they’ll turn a challenging situation into a positive experience.
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