NISD teacher gets creative to fill seats in her classroom while virtual learning
KSAT.com. Alicia Barrera. September 03, 2020.

SAN ANTONIO – School districts across San Antonio are closely tracking student attendance during remote learning.

In an effort to make sure students are logging in and learning, a freshman teacher at the Northside Independent School District’s Construction Careers Academy got creative and invited some familiar faces to fill the seats of her empty classroom.

Brandy Kloewer teaches principles of construction at the NISD magnet school. While the 160 freshmen learn from home, celebrities have made an appearance in Kloewer’s classroom.

“It feels a lot less lonely while the kids are gone. Plus, the kids think it’s funny,” Kloewer said.

A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, The Rock, Cardi B, and Jack Black fill the empty classroom. Pop culture favorites like Jake from State Farm, Dwight from The Office and Carol Baskin from Netflix’s docu-series Tiger King have caught the attention from school administrators.

“I have Carol Baskin sitting by our superintendent, Dr. Woods. Dr. Woods would be my favorite student,” Kloewer said.

The celebrities seemingly blend into Kloewer’s classroom decor that’s self-described as construction-chic.

“I drew several different types of hand tools and power tools on the chalkboards and hung them around (the classroom),” Kloewer said. “That’s part of the curriculum. The kids will learn hand tools and power tools. They learn the anatomy of residential construction, how to frame walls, and a lot of construction math. There’s a lot of measuring and and figuring area in volume.”

The entrance of the classroom includes a water hose to keep the faux green landscaping fresh, custom window shutters and shades and even a mail box.

“The different things outside the classroom were items I found (at antique stores or on the curb), and that I put together.

Kloewer said she put a lot of work into designing her classroom to make the freshmen feel at home and keep them coming back to learn more.

According to Koewler, student attendance and engagement has not been a problem during the first two weeks of school.

“When they do come back, you know, they have something to look forward to,” Kloewer said. “They actually want to come back and see the room in real time so, hopefully I did that.”

According to NISD’s spokesperson, Barry Pérez, the in-person instruction is set to begin Tuesday, September 8 and will only be for a select few students.

“We will utilize a tiered approach and begin by bringing small numbers of students as we balance the need to have students back in classrooms with the need to ensure student and staff safety,” Pérez said. “In the first group of students to return will be Learners in Specialized classes and elementary English Learners.”

Campuses will directly reach out to notify families that are selected to transition to in-person learning.

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