Rachel Hodge is a single mother of two daughters, works full time at a hospital, and is studying for a bachelor’s in social work to her career advancement.
With no family near her, Hodge cares for her two daughters, ages 5 and 11 — alone — while paying the bills, cooking the meals, and doing the laundry.
“You have to push yourself … if you want to be able to get where you want to be,” Hodge said.
However, when her daughter’s schools in Newark, New Jersey, announced the near-inevitable — that learning for fall would be online to counter the coronavirus pandemic — something had to give.
Gianna, 11, would have the maturity and ability to focus on online classes, but that was going to be impossible for Vanessa, 5, a kindergartener. Her daycare would not have the support and quiet that a young kid would need.
Hodge said in a CNN report that she was direct with the teachers at Vanessa’s KIPP charter school that there would be days when she would not be in class.
Hodge did what she could to try to catch Vanessa up at night, but the 5-year-old could only attend the critical first year of school on her days off.
“I really didn’t know how I was going to do this,” Hodge said. “I was upset with myself that I had to sacrifice her education so I could be able to work.”
It’s not the in-person classroom learning that teachers, children, and parents yearn for, but Hodge said she sees the students forming relationships as well as learning their numbers and ABCs all critical parts of kindergarten.
Night classes for both Hodge and her daughter means more scheduling and prioritizing but she is happy that her younger daughter understands you’re supposed to go to school every day.
“It’s been really hard doing this on my own and working in the hospital, trying to make ends meet and being able to go to school to further my education,” Hodge said. “I’m very fortunate that she’s able to have a school that puts parents at top-notch of priorities.”