VIRTUAL LEARNING TESTS BEAVERTON TEACHER
The 2019-20 school year was a tough one for teachers all around, but Kerri Swygard, who teaches at Springville K-8 School in Beaverton, brought a smile to her first-grade students no matter what situation was thrown her way.
Swygard, 46, has taught in the Beaverton School District for over 20 years. Originally from Lake Oswego, she attended Lakeridge High School, went on to study at Oregon State University and later received a master’s degree from George Fox University.
Despite her studies and vast experience, Swygard had difficulties transitioning into the distance learning format forced upon Oregon schools by the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.
“My biggest struggle was the technology,” said Swygard. “I would say that is my biggest weakness. So, going on to that online model, my biggest struggle was having confidence in myself, (and) that I could figure out all of this tech stuff and move forward while doing it well.”
Last summer, Swygard started taking online classes provided by the district regarding distance learning, along with recorded classes she could view at her leisure. She also reached out to her teammates to help her when she was stressed about learning everything correctly.
“It was all accessible, (but) it just took time to watch, learn and practice,” she added. “It took me a while to have time to practice it and become comfortable with recording lessons, trimming them and then uploading them.”
During her career, Swygard has taught first-, second- and third-graders.
When asked about her favorite part about teaching first-graders at Springville, Swygard said, “I tell them every day that they bring joy to me — just from their smiles. They are so full of childlike wonder and they bring that with them every day, even when they’re having a hard day or they’re tired. There’s still this willingness and they want to learn all of these things.”
Swygard’s husband, Jaime Swygard, nominated her as Beaverton’s Amazing Educator. In his nomination, he wrote that he has personally witnessed his wife’s sacrifice and dedication to connect with every single one of her students. He remembers spending time in her classroom over the years and describes it as a “safe, warm (and) inviting space that allows her kids to open and blossom.”
He added, “Her ability to create these strong relationships enhances her kids’ ability to engage in the teachings and retain the information better.”
Jaime Swygard said his wife has kept an upbeat attitude while also giving her all to the students at Springville.
“I have heard from many of the parents of Kerri’s students and I am constantly amazed at the praise and thanks that they give to her,” he said. “They say that Kerri is a blessing, and they wouldn’t know what to do without her.”
Both Kerri and Jaime Swygard have also had to navigate parenting their four boys during the pandemic. Kerri Swygard said her husband sees her passion for teaching firsthand, evidenced by all of the dancing and singing she does for her students during lessons, even if her own boys tease her in the process.
“It has been challenging to say the least,” Swygard said about parenting during the COVID-19 crisis. “The fall was difficult finding a rhythm. My children have learned resilience as they are managing most of their studies independently now. My husband and I work as a team to support (them) where we can.”
As for her award as Beaverton’s Amazing Educator, Kerri Swygard said she feels honored and grateful to receive the recognition.
“I am surrounded by amazing teachers and staff where I work, and it feels like there are so many more that should have this honor as well,” said Swygard. “I’m humbled (because) it has been a hard year for all teachers and just to hear that someone appreciated you and recognized your hard work is the fuel that keeps you going.”