Star teacher: Naples teacher helps students transition to online learning

Star fourth grade teacher Erin Bassham has excelled at teaching virtually.

Amanda Turner, the mother of one of Bassham’s students, nominated her, saying her fourth-grade son Winston was so touched after his virtual class that he said, “Mom, this is what it feels like to be educated.” Turner said the smile didn’t leave his face for an hour after his online class ended.

“I went from 100% engagement with my kids and having a great time learning to having three-fourths of my students disappear,” Bassham said of the initial switch to online school.

Bassham came face to face with a new reality when the pandemic hit. Her Naples Park Elementary School classroom was no longer a safe place, but she adjusted quickly, captivating her students in a virtual classroom. Now parents are praising her for it.

“When I read that email I started crying, because I don’t teach for rewards and recognition, I teach because I want kids to love learning as much as I did when I was growing up,” Bassham said of Turner’s positive message.

Video games have been invaluable for Bassham in bonding with her students; she loves them just as much as most of her class does, and they’ve proven useful for teaching.

“They know I love games, I am a video gamer,” Bassham said. “That’s usually what I start with on the first day of school, so they can see that I can relate to them, I’m not just some old lady standing in front of them teaching all year. I like to have fun!”

But it’s not all fun. In the 14 years Bassham has been teaching, she never imagined she would feel so lonely.

“That first day of school, when I logged in… by the end of the day I was almost in tears, because it was one of the loneliest first days of schools I’ve ever had,” Bassham said. “That’s when I was like, ‘Wow, this is a totally different time.'”

It’s another reason kind words of encouragement go even further during these trying times, especially for educators.

“A note like that from a parent or a kid, it makes a world of difference,” Bassham said. “I don’t need a shiny trophy and glory. That right there tells you you’re making a difference, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Reporter:Sabrina Katz
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.