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Amid Uncertainty, New Teachers Look Forward To Upcoming School Year

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) - Thousands of public school students across the region will return to class next month. It will also be the start of a new job for 60 teachers in the Binghamton City School District. 

Every year, new teachers at Binghamton city schools pile onto buses for a tour around the district.

There is a lot more new teachers this year. Two city buses full.

That is after a year when more teachers chose to retire or leave their jobs than the state projected.

New fourth grade teacher Jessica Wiede just graduated with her master's degree in education from Binghamton University. She said that as a student teacher during the pandemic, she has learned to be adaptable. The recent statewide school mask mandate is no exception.

"Do I wish we didn’t have to wear masks? Of course," Wiede said. "I want to see my kids' faces. I want them to see my face all the time. But we make the best out of it and we'll have fun."

Last year, Wiede taught kindergarten as a student teacher in the Binghamton district. She is looking forward to returning this fall and working with the older kids.

"Compared to kindergarten where they wanted to take off their masks all the time - they don't get what germs are, necessarily - fourth graders have a little bit more of that understanding," Wiede said.

Scott Blankenbaker also is a recent graduate. He will teach physics and forensics at Binghamton High School. He said he is gearing up to make sure students are back on track.

"Last year was really hard for a lot of people," Blankenbaker said. "And I know we're getting kids coming in who had a good year last year, and we're going to get kids coming in who had a lot of trouble last year, and trying to meet everybody where they're at.

Blankenbaker said that he is excited to welcome students to his classroom in person this fall. He is also hoping that spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 does not change that.

"I think everybody is a little bit nervous about where we're going from here," Blankenbaker said. "I think hybrid education is better than nothing, but was bad for most people last year. And I'm very much hoping we don't have to go back to that at any point."