Half Moon Bay kindergarten teacher, students overcome obstacles at school she attended – CBS San Francisco
By Jennifer Mistrot and Elizabeth Cook
HALF MOON BAY (KPIX 5) — Brenda De Jesus Acosta leads her kindergarten class at Hatch Elementary School in Half Moon Bay through the “three Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic. But for De Jesus Acosta, the letter R also represents the respect she has for her young students and all they have been through since the COVID pandemic.
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“I tell the kids all the time, this is your space! You can tell me if you’re feeling sad, if you’re feeling happy, if you’re worried. As I tell them I think it’s very important that your emotional well-being is good,” De Jesus Acosta said. “I think it’s a reset for me, for the way I teach.”
Part of that reset has been De Jesus Acosta’s renewed focus on his pupil’s emotional well-being. It’s a big responsibility for the 25-year-old teacher’s first full year back in the classroom at the same school she once attended.
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After a teaching internship and earning his master’s degree, De Jesus Acosta landed his current job in August 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. Online teaching and prep work meant long days.
“It was a lot. I do not know. Like more than 10 hours,” recalled De Jesus Acosta. “I used to come here in the morning and get ready for Zoom. After Zoom, set up for small sessions. And then stay to prepare for next week because we were sending homework packages for each week.
When she and her entire family contracted COVID, work became a necessary distraction.
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“Three weeks into teaching, my whole family has been affected by COVID, including me,” said De Jesus Acosta. “So we faced navigating COVID in such an unknown time, because it was just the beginning.”
De Jesus Acosta’s case was mild, but his father fell very ill.
“My dad was actually the most [critical]. He was in intensive care for a few weeks,” De Jesus Acosta said in tears. “We were told he might not make it. But I kind of took it as just a way to keep working.
Teaching his first online kindergarten class lifted De Jesus Acosta’s spirits as his father slowly recovered. And in the spring of 2021, her students returned to a beautiful classroom ready to learn.
“It was amazing to see them come in, to see them looking around like, ‘That’s so cool! “” she beamed.
But it’s his current class that reminds De Jesus Acosta why teaching is his calling, with an ‘R’ for resilient. She is grateful to teach at Hatch Elementary and to see herself in her student’s shoes.
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“That was my attitude,” said De Jesus Acosta. “Like, this is what you’ve wanted your whole life. I was as resilient as possible and I was so proud of my little five and six year olds who were extremely resilient, extremely open-minded and just proud of the road traveled.