(L-R) History teachers Helen Smith and Emily Stevens reunite after staying home for months due to the pandemic. Photo: Emily Stevens

Seven Pace upper school teachers chose to remain at home during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19. While some will not be returning to school next year, upper school history teachers Emily Stevens and Helen Smith look forward to being on campus this fall. Although it has been a difficult year with unprecedented events, these teachers are thrilled to return to a sense of normalcy by teaching students in person.

During these past few months at home, Ms. Stevens has made sure to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year in every way possible. She explained that although she doesn’t know what life at Pace will look like in four months, she is “definitely going to do the Chinese trial that [she] did the last two years.” Additionally, Ms. Stevens wants “to try to look more at the structure of different ancient cultures, so that people don’t have the sense of things being inevitable” in her classes.

“I think that when you’re talking about trying to create a United States that has more equity, it’s important to see that the structures that tried to appear unchanging and immutable and all-powerful, aren’t [always] right,” said Ms. Stevens.

While Ms. Stevens is looking forward to getting back into the classroom, this year has been rather stressful. The threat of catching COVID-19 is always a possibility, and Ms. Stevens has made sure to be as careful as possible. While she agrees that Pace has done a good job of sanitizing the school and keeping students and faculty healthy, she explains that “there’s no mitigating the enormity of the stress that everybody has been under.”

Ms. Smith has also been keeping busy during her time at home. She continued to sponsor Model UN from home this year, in addition to other endeavors. She explains that she has “spent a lot of time reading about how to be a better model and how to make Model UN more appealing to a diverse group of students, and to help students see the importance of working with real-life problems.” Ms. Smith will also resume teaching an AP Comparative Politics class next year.

She shared that she has “been trying to listen to more lectures that deal with political issues, and sort of political concepts.” Ms. Smith took time to take an online art history course from The National Gallery in London, which she found to be a “very cool and enlightening experience.”

Ms. Smith said that she has “missed being in person with [her] faculty, friends, and with students.” Similar to Ms. Stevens, she misses having students just drop into her classroom. “I missed that time period from say, three to five o’clock when there are lots of people on campus still doing activities,” she said. “And it was just a time to share ideas and to share about teaching or for students to work on projects or just to talk.” 


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