Change is the name of the game at Burrell this year, but not only because of the pandemic. The district has also added two new teachers, Elizabeth Hartman and Alli Oberdorf, to the roster.
Hartman teaches 8th-grade science at Charles A. Huston Middle School, while Oberdorf is a learning support teacher for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade at Bon Air Elementary.
Previously, Hartman taught 6th to 8th-grade social studies at St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School, and Oberdorf was a building substitute teacher at Leechburg Area School District.
Despite teaching different subjects, both teachers have similar philosophies for the learning process. Both value hands-on work as a way to motivate students.
"I could stand up there and talk about how cool science is, but I find that students learn more when they figure it out on their own," Hartman said.
Hartman also loves including parody songs into her lesson plans, as she believes it helps students get more involved.
Oberdorf, on the other hand, uses her positive attitude to excite and motivate students as much as possible.
" I want my students to feel welcomed in my classroom and always know that I am there for them," Oberdorf said.
Of course, teaching through a pandemic has meant that both teachers have altered their teaching style. Oberdorf, in particular, has been using more technology in her lessons.
" I have learned a lot this school year about using technology in the classroom and how it can really help students learn," Oberdorf said.
Hartman notes she has had to do a lot of risk-taking.
"I usually am an observer at a new school," Hartman said. "This year has pulled me to come out of that shell."
Even with the restrictions, Oberdorf is striving to create a fun, happy, and safe learning environment. She knows that this year is not like the others, so she's doing her best to keep excitement levels high.
Hartman hopes to learn new ideas and techniques that she can use throughout her career. Long-term, she has the goal of becoming a principal or superintendent.
So far, the new teachers are loving their experience and have found both the students and staff a pleasure to deal with, even with pandemic restrictions in place.
"I would say the students have a great attitude," said Hartman. "Even with all the chaos of starting a new school year with new rules and a new teacher, I think they have all had a great mindset about the year."
"All of the teachers are amazing and willing to lend a helping hand when needed," said Oberdorf. "Everyone has been a team player and willing to do what is best for our students."