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Profiles In Resilience: The Chemistry of Connection

High school science educator J Geracie emphasizes the importance of patience and understanding.

students in lab class

By Kaley LaQuea

July 13, 2021

In what has been the hardest year in recent memory, Teach For America Colorado's teachers are showing up stronger than ever to support our state's most underserved students. We're telling their stories — see below for J's and take a look at more Profiles in Resilience.

For 10th grade chemistry teacher J Geracie (Colorado ‘20), equal access to resources was the biggest challenge teaching during COVID-19. With so many of his students dealing with inconsistent internet access, consistent participation was hard.

“They want to be there and I want to be there, but they just can't,” he explained. “You have to show some grace.”

J says accepting these moments as part of the new norm and being patient with not only the students, but also with technology was the most significant adjustment for him this year. But he was committed to making his lessons and curriculum as engaging as possible. With so many of his students dealing with incredible - sometimes unspeakable - challenges, J says vying for their focus and attention required constant patience and flexibility.

“You just got to work for it in a way that you may not have before,” J said. “Just being patient with that idea and saying, ‘Hey, all these things are going on outside. Take your time with it. We'll learn at your pace.’”

Conscious Connection

J  graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, but wanted something more out of his career. After teaching at a Title I school in Tulsa, J knew he had found his passion, which led him to Teach For America.

“So I applied, and it's really about the connections that I made with my students in Tulsa and the connections I'm making now. That's what I was in it for, and that's what I'm continuing to be in it for.”

After the initial adjustments to virtual learning, J found that his students wanted to learn more about him, and to share more about themselves. So he made a regular practice of student check-ins with fun questions that help him get to know their personalities better.

He finds himself coming back to the idea of giving and receiving grace. J hopes his students know that just making it through the trials of the past year means they’ve already succeeded.