Unsung Heroes of West: Ms. Kahlon

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Art/Photo by Ms. Kahlon

Ms. Kahlon was one of West High’s first teachers to provide on-campus education for students this school year. Despite the modified learning environment, she observed that it has “helped a lot of kids. I see that students’ grades have improved.”

Lauren Ng, Staff Writer

   At the heart of West High lies teamwork and resilience. But how many members of our hardworking staff and community can you name? There are quite a handful of individuals working out of the spotlight to oversee school responsibilities, communicate with families, and support the well-being of students. Meet one of West High’s many unsung heroes: Ms. Kahlon.

   As an English teacher and the English Language Development (ELD) Coordinator at West, Ms. Kahlon maintains different responsibilities. She was one of the earliest teachers to make a campus return for in-person school, currently providing instruction for two learning pods: an English pod and an ELD pod. Ms. Kahlon stated that “the classes are hybrid, so half of the students are in person, the other half are online.” 

   Being back at West High, the mornings are similar to those of a regular school year for Ms. Kahlon; but when students arrive, it becomes clear that the teaching-learning atmosphere is quite unique: “It’s so different when students are here, when you’re back in the classroom,” she described. 

   Although the two learning pods only have roughly 12 students combined, Ms. Kahlon noted that “there’s a lot more interaction and movement in the classroom than you might think,” even with a few students. Maintaining social distance, wiping down surfaces, and wearing masks have created an “added layer on top of regular learning,” Ms. Kahlon described. These practices have shed light on the amount of classroom interaction that normally occurs. 

   The new adjustments and rules implemented into the school day have visibly affected the way Ms. Kahlon teaches: “I’ve had to become creative as a teacher… even though everybody is learning the same thing, the in-person students might do things a little bit different because they’re [on campus]… rather than the kids who are online, who can’t access the same things.”      

   Simultaneously teaching in the classroom and in an online meeting exemplifies the differences between in-person and virtual learning. Ms. Kahlon listed some of the benefits of being in the classroom: “I’m able to print things out for [students], they write on the whiteboard… I can actually walk over to them if they have a question.” On the other hand, communicating with online students takes place “on a Jamboard or a Zoom chat, or I have to do a lot of guessing as they’re talking me through a problem they’re having,” Ms. Kahlon explained.

   Despite the obstacles posed by this form of teaching, Ms. Kahlon believes that the outcome is worth the effort, especially for the in-person students: “Students who were at a disadvantage are able to come back to the classroom and get that one-on-one support.”   

   Ms. Kahlon recalled that towards the beginning of the school year, “students expressed frustration, anxiety, and it’s just so hard to help and connect via Zoom.” Aiding her students in overcoming these difficulties serves as inspiration for Ms. Kahlon: “Knowing that their grades are improving, knowing that they’re getting help, they’re able to spend time with friends, I think that’s what’s motivated me to keep coming to school, even with all of the risks.”