James Corboy’s classroom is a fun and entertaining place for students.
Corboy, 56, is a science teacher at Avalon School on Catalina Island and has guided his classes through chemical experiments and building rockets and parachutes.
Soon he will be leading the class making a helium balloon. Corboy teaches multiple subjects: fifth grade robotics, seventh grade science, and eighth grade physics
“I am ready to do anything,” he said, “to interest you.”
But this year was a little different: because of the coronavirus, he didn’t see his students in person. Due to the pandemic, the Long Beach Unified School District classes have only been online since March – a stretch that spans the entire first half of the current school year. And LBUSD will maintain distance learning until at least March 1st, a date that could be postponed to April 12th.
To make learning easier for his students, Corboy has turned his garage into his classroom and office.
“I had to create my space here,” he said. “I have a big screen TV behind me. When we studied this summer, I was confident that we wouldn’t go to school. I had to create my space to teach. I don’t sit down and teach. I move around; They need entertainment while they spend most of their day using the tiny Chromebooks. “
Virtual learning is difficult for the children under the best of circumstances, but especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. So, Corboy said, it’s his job to be there for his class and try to get the best out of the situation.
“Children are great,” he said. “You want to be recognized, committed and learned.
“It’s so hard for these kids,” added Corboy. “I have had four children with someone in their family who died of COVID. I’m just trying to get them engaged and get the most out of this distant learning that we are in. “
Corboy aims to get in touch with his students, not just for course work.
“I’ve been doing this for 12 years and one thing I can do is get in touch with children,” he said. “Every Monday and Friday we check in and I tell you how you feel. This enables me to connect with any child. “
Corboy began teaching in Oakland before moving to Tacoma, Washington, and then to California and Avalon School.
One thing has remained constant on his travels.
“I’m energetic and I’m passionate about science and I want to entertain it too, so I have props,” he said. “I think it works. You have to be impressed with kids who show up on a small screen every day. “
Residence: Newport Beach
Job: Teacher at Avalon School in LBUSD
Why he’s a pandemic hero: He’s converted his garage into a science classroom and laboratory to get the most out of his students through virtual learning.
Sign up for The Localist, our daily email newsletter with hand-picked stories relevant to where you live. Subscribe here.