Being a teacher has always been hard work requiring boundless patience, even for the most passionate educators who wouldn’t choose any other profession, but the challenges have been heightened during these past two-plus pandemic years. Even as everyday life may again be resembling what could be described as “normal,” the demands on teachers remain higher than ever, and many students are still struggling to catch up. So where do those who support the education of the next generation turn to for support? Some local Marinites are working hard to provide resources to these dedicated educators, as well as for their students and families, to help improve the learning experience.
Marin native and San Anselmo resident Caitlin Mitchell, along with fellow former teacher Jessica Cannata, cofounded curriculum company EB Academics to offer middle school English and language arts teachers innovative lesson plans to keep students engaged, as well as stress-management strategies. “We strive to ensure teachers are supported and do great work inside of the classroom but also thrive outside of school,” says Mitchell, who serves as EB Academics CEO. “We provide them with the tools, resources and guidance necessary to be the teachers they want to be.” Through its membership model, EB Academics provides thousands of teachers in Marin County and around the world with project-based learning lesson plans, such as building a business and pitching it to investors, and a literary escape room unit. To help their teacher members teach remotely during the pandemic, EB Academics began providing digital components to all their lessons. “At that time, I was even nominated as a local hero on KRON4 News by one of our teachers in our membership!” Mitchell shares.
Another former teacher devoted to improving the classroom experience, for both teachers and students, is Mario Moran, who taught at Marin Primary and Middle School for 22 years before founding his business to help kids with behavioral and academic challenges. “When educators and families reach out to me, they often feel like they’ve run out of options,” Moran says. “I support students who don’t necessarily ‘fit in the box,’ and, in turn, I support teachers by helping these students after teachers and parents feel they have nowhere else to turn.”
At Marios Method, Moran consults with families, students and teachers, helping to create a connection so they don’t fall by the wayside. “I draw on my 20-plus years of experience to decide on the best approach to reach them on a human level,” he says. “Every child and family is different. Sometimes, it’s just talking about their interests like art, sports or books. I listen and can understand what it takes to help students make a connection with the world they inhabit.”
Even though in-person schooling is back in session, the pressures of the pandemic — on both students and teachers — are still present, so Marios Method and EB Academics are ready to back up our brave educators. “I’m really looking forward to returning to classrooms to observe and interact with kids and teachers and share space with students and provide, in detail, information to educators on how best to support these children,’” Moran says.
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Richard Wright is a writer from Marin whose work has appeared in San Francisco Magazine, SOMA, 944, The Olympian and numerous online publications. He has an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California in creative writing and lives in Sausalito with his wife, Stephanie.