Eight years ago, James McKernan made a mid-life career change, which took him out of the banking industry and brought him to Sand Hill Venable Elementary School.
Now, during the pandemic, he’s teaching virtually. But, the families of his students say the level of learning and connection remains very high.
James McKernan starts off his fourth-grade virtual class with a round of gratitude, asking his students what they are thankful for, and how they can show it.
But, soon, it’s time to get down to business.
Today’s math lesson is on identifying prime and composite numbers.
"I love being around kids," says McKernan. "I like the energy of kids. I like the fact that they’re in the moment. They’re honest. They’re generally very kind."
McKernan says he knew he wanted to be a teacher since high school, but waited until his late 30’s to make the leap from banking to teaching.
He says his mission this year is partnering with the parents to help them get through the challenges of online learning during the pandemic.
"I want them to come home from work and feel that my child has been taken care of, that they have learned, that they have moved forward, and we are all in this together," says Mc Kernan.
Savannah Griffin says McKernan is giving her that peace of mind when it comes to her son, Logan.
"He can be so fun and make them so excited for school, but he is on them. He expects them to do what he thinks they’re capable of," says Griffin.
"He is going the extra mile to make sure the kids are still growing academically, and supporting them emotionally as well," says Sand Hill Venable Principal Tyla Moody.
"The reason why I like Mr. McKernan is, well because he’s a great teacher and he makes learning really fun," says Griffin's son Logan.
"The memories I have in eight years of teaching are much richer than the memories I have of my banking career," states the fourth-grade teacher.
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