(WREX) — For years, 13 News has honored educators in the stateline area with our Teacher of the Week award.
However, the series, along with in class teaching, was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
For the last two months, students and teachers have communicated virtually, working through e-learning resources rather than the traditional classroom setting.
The learning curve has been large for many teachers as they adjust to bring class into session everyday from their own homes.
"Everything has been turned upside down. My dining room has turned into my desk," East High School teacher John Zuba said.
"I think our world has changed forever and specifically education has changed forever."
The change of scenery isn't the biggest change for teachers to get used to.
Many of them say it's being able to make a direct connection to kids is what they miss most.
It hits especially hard for Sylvia Landreth who is retiring at the end of the school year.
The Fairview Early Childhood Center teacher now talks to her kids through Google Hangout after leaving for spring break and not coming back due to coronavirus.
"I didn't have a face to face goodbye so this is a very special time for me and my students," Landreth said.
The situation is an emotional one for teachers who may not see some, or in some cases all, of their students ever again.
There is a level of clarity that has come from the pandemic.
As Zuba said, the landscape of education and our world as a whole has been altered permanently.
However what hasn't changed, in fact been reinforced, is the passion our teachers have.
Andrew Nelson, a teacher at David L. Rahn middle school in Mt. Morris, says this is the time to keep in mind why they chose education in the first place.
To help kids.
"While the methods that we were normally accustomed to helping kids have vastly vastly changed, you're still serving those kids who need you," Nelson said.
This mindset has helped teachers not just stay strong, but stay together.
Capron Elementary School's Serena Brettscneider says a solid bond has been built between educators to support each other for as long as the pandemic continues.
"I feel like it's brought us together in a way in a sense of if we weren't already supporting each other, we have to now," Brettscheider said.
"There's no way we could've gotten this far without supporting each other and helping each other."
We featured 26 educators in our Teacher of the Week series this school year.
Below is a list of their names and where they teach.
At the bottom of the list is a slideshow of some of our winners in their "home offices" as they continue to work with kids day in and day out.
Jason Mondello-Winnebago High School, Winnebago
Erin Fjelland-Seth Whitman Elementary School, Belvidere
Amber Dimond- Constance Lane Elementary School, Rockford
Michael Kusek- Stillman Valley High School, Stillman Valley
Liliana Weissbuch-Hillman Elementary School, Rockford
Terese Madden- Pecatonica High School, Pecatonica
Patti Luevano-Stephen Mack Middle School, Rockton
Heather Nelson-Washington Academy, Belvidere
Nick Muench-Immanuel Lutheran School, Freeport
Kayla Hedlund- Simon Elementary School, Winnebago
Amy Durso- Brookview Elementary School, Rockford
Brenna Hickcox-Belvidere Central Middle School, Belvidere
Jodi Graber-Donald Parker Center, Machesney Park
Leslie Granneman-Auburn High School, Rockford
Sylvia Landreth- Fairview Early Childhood Center, Rockford
Mike Huenefeld-Carl Sandburg Middle School, Freeport
John Zuba-East High School, Rockford
Suzette Muck-Poplar Grove Elementary School, Poplar Grove
Traci Rankins- Harlem High School, Machesney Park
Andrew Nelson- David L Rahn Middle School, Mt. Morris
Kristine Mollway- Machesney Elementary School, Machesney Park
Serena Brettschneider- Capron Elementary School, Capron
Tabitha Smith-Loves Park Elementary School, Loves Park
Stacy Ross-Durand School District, Durand
Tammy Greene-Kings Elementary School, Kings
Toni Altamore-Spring Creek Elementary School, Rockford