Bauxite coach, teacher sees uncertainty while preparing for return to the classroom
Starting his fourth year at Bauxite Middle School, one teacher and coach sees uncertainty about how this school year will go as he prepares to return to the classroom.
Tommy Wimberly is in his dream job as a seventh-grade career development and tools for learning teacher at the middle school while also serving as head junior high football coach and head bowling coach.
As a self-described “Bauxite boy,” Wimberly, a 2008 Bauxite graduate, always wanted to return to his home school to teach and coach.
“It has always been my dream to come back to this community and pour into these kids,” he said, adding he wants to give students what he got from his teachers and coaches growing up.
Wimberly is excited to welcome the students back. He and other teachers have been making videos to introduce themselves to the students. The videos are available on the Bauxite Public Schools Facebook page.
He is sad the school will not have a traditional open house where he would get a chance to meet his students in person and give them a chance to get to know him before the first day. He sees open house as a way to begin building relationships with his students.
He considers himself a relational type of guy. He wants to be the sort of teacher students enjoy learning from.
He expects to have to do some online videos and assignments. He thinks he will most likely us his prep period to record his lessons for his online students.
Wimberly already has experience with using videos to teach. When his youngest son was born last year, he recored videos to get his students started on their lessons each day.
“We are going to have to get innovative,” Wimberly said. “It will be a learning experience for us all.”
He thinks virtual learning will be a challenge for many teachers and students.
Wimberly has already begun coaching football for the year. He said masks really have not been a challenge for the players.
He knows the students are not going to want to wear them
Editor’s Note: This is the first of many in a series by The Saline Courier highlighting the return to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
and he understands that. If there is enough space for social distancing, he hopes to be able to allow students to not wear them.
“Kids don’t want to wear them. Teachers don’t want to wear them,” he said.
To ensure plenty of room to social distance, he is pairing down his room to one teacher desk and removing his computer desk and filing cabinets. Instead of desks, he has tables that usually seat four to a table. He is still trying to determine how to plan seating.
He feels it is important for students to be in the classroom because it gives them a social outlet and allows them to build camaraderie and relationships.
Wimberly plans to prepare his lessons in advance in case he does have to go into quarantine he students can still learn. He will also make videos.
As a coach, he said he will follow the guidelines set out by the Arkansas Activities Association and the governor.
“We are doing everything possible to prepare for a season,” he said.
He is choosing to stay upbeat.
His oldest son is going into the eighth grade and he is looking forward to coaching him.
“I want a football season to happen but so much is uncertain,” he said.
For bowling, he does not expect a change because bowling alleys are already open and it can be done socially distant.
He believes the biggest affect on schools of the virus is the uncertainty it has created for parents, teachers, students and staff. He feels people just want that sense of normalcy back.
He is choosing to embrace faith over fear during this time. He believes things will return to normal.
Wimberly plans to focus on being encouraging and positive for his students. He understands they are already dealing with fear and anxiety from being cooped up since school let out in March.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do,” he said.
He hopes his attitude will rub off on the students.
Coach and teacher Tommy Wimberly is excited, though uncertain, about having his students back in the classroom. He hopes to show an upbeat, positive attitude to help his students feel more positive when they return.