Oolagah-Talala Teachers Reflect On Difficulties Of Working Through The Pandemic

Saturday, December 12th 2020, 9:33 pm

OOLAGAH, Okla. -

Teachers at Oolagah-Talala High School, up until post-Thanksgiving break, have managed to offer an in-person learning option for their students. 

The school’s principal told News On 6 his teachers are the heroes who've made the transition to remote learning possible.

Oologah-Talala High School teachers said they're taking virtual learning day by day. 

School principal Kevin Hogue said the school district was hit hard over Thanksgiving week. Hogue said bus driver and substitute teacher shortages forced them to move to distance learning. 

Still, Hogue said his teachers and students have shown resiliency in the face of frustrations.

“I've got goosebumps right now,” Hogue said. “I can't say enough about them. I love them all.”

Jennifer Denslow has taught fine arts subjects like drama, speech and debate at Oolagah for 28 years. When she started her tenure at Oolagah, there weren't even phones in classrooms. 

Now, Denslow has spent more than 40 hours undergoing online training for the big switch.

"Teaching in this situation, sitting at my desk, looking at an empty room, the hallways are quiet. It's almost eerie,” Denslow said.

Denslow said they're becoming amateur IT specialists. She also said her students have had to grow up fast.

“I'm a silver linings sort of person and so, as a teacher, I've tried to share that optimism with my kids to keep them upbeat,” Denslow said. 

The high school said its counselors spent the past week calling students to check in with them.

Donna Conley, a math teacher, said she wants her students to know she's only one call away, even if it is a Zoom call.

"We're holding it together,” Conley said. “I'm not going to say there hasn't been tears. We are all really tired, but we're still coming back every day."

Hogue said if there's one plus to these last several months, it's that his students are able to lose the mask at home which gives him the chance to see them smile again.

“I've gotten to see some kids,” Hogue said. “Make them smile. Make them laugh.”