In our last newsletter, we introduced our new spotlight series on the teachers in Washington D.C. who are working hard to keep their classrooms running smoothly, while overcoming e-learning challenges. We were amazed by their stories and can’t wait to share them with you.

Our team recently sat down with Ms. Gabrielle Burno, who has been a teacher in the D.C. Public School System for 8 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher at Hendley Elementary School. After learning about Gabrielle’s need, the Foundation provided Ms. Burno with 9 laptops for her 16-student classroom, where half of her students did not have access to laptops or iPads to complete coursework.

NWF: Gabrielle, thank you for your time to chat with the Newwave Foundation! We’d love to hear what inspired you to be a teacher and how you ended up teaching Pre-K students?

Gabrielle: I was inspired by a teacher I had (Mr. Rob) and I really remember the experience of having him expose our class to new ways of thinking. I wanted to give that feeling back to others. In high school, I volunteered at a nursery and thought that working in Pre-K would be a better fit. I’ve been a teacher with DCPS for 8 years now.

NWF: Wow, that’s incredible Gabby. What has your experience been like working in the DCPS?

Gabrielle: It’s been great so far! I work with a strong group of teachers. We’re not only in invested in our students, but personally too, for each other.

NWF: What are some pros and cons you see with distance learning?

Gabrielle: “The biggest con so far is that I’m not able to see my students in person. It’s been almost three months since I last saw them and not being able to see them regularly makes it difficult to make those genuine connections, I just want to give my kids a high five and hug them.”

NWF: What are some changes you plan to implement in your classroom in the future?

Gabrielle: Moving forward, I want to bring more of my home into the classroom. I’m getting more familiar with Zoom and Facetime and I want to keep creating personal learning experiences for my students.

NWF: Thank you for sharing with us, Gabby! Is there anything you’d like to share with our NWF community and any other teachers who might be reading this spotlight?

Gabby: Right now, it’s important to be empathetic. Even if you haven’t been directly affected (by COVID-19), mental health is important and its important to take it easy on yourself. We’re all in this together.