Students or teachers who started classes again this fall might agree, school looks quite different from how it has been in the past. With so many districts using some form of online learning, we’ve gotten used to our bedrooms becoming our classrooms. Recently, many have noticed yet another shift in the educational atmosphere: pets are becoming classmates, too!
They’re not always the most helpful classroom companions as they walk across our keyboards and wait until we unmute ourselves to start barking. But, several Tucsonan students and instructors have found these new characters to be welcomed additions while navigating life through a screen. In honor of all the snuggling, yowling and video-bombing these new members have contributed to our academic communities, it seems high time we give a few of them some recognition.
To start us off, meet Henry. According to Maria Cazzato, a member of Henry’s adoptive family and an 11th grade student at Catalina Foothills High School, Henry is known for being “very calm and friendly.” Although he is new to the family, he has already made many appearances in the background of Maria’s classes, even stealing the spotlight during her online club meetings! Being 4 years old and a rescued stray through Desert Labrador Rescue, at-home classes are definitely new to him. Luckily, Maria has found that the extra time at home makes this the ideal time to bring him into the family because there’s always someone home to make sure he’s doing okay. After months of social distancing, “it’s nice having company all day,” she notes. Maria doesn’t mind when he pops in to say hi during class, either. After all, with his shiny yellow fur and ear-to-ear grin, who could resist? As Maria puts it, “dogs are the best possible distractions!”
At Amphi Academy Online, 3rd grader Rowan Hawkins has earned a reputation for her many furry, hairy and scaly classmates. From Mousse the dog and Phantom the cat to Monsoon the desert hairy scorpion and Gojira the rescued savannah monitor lizard, Rowan’s at-home classroom is very busy. There’s also Mune the Madrean alligator lizard, Star Sparkle the tarantula, Race the Kenyan sand boa, Fuego the bearded dragon, and more. Now that school is online, Rowan enjoys spending more time with her many pets and even showing them off during meetings.
“Sometimes they’re helpful because I get to share with the class and teach them about the animals,” Rowan said. Each of them has a very distinct personality. Phantom likes to sleep all day, but Star Sparkle is quite active. She even does a little dance whenever she eats lunch. Gojira is one of the shyer students known for cautiously flicking out her tongue to smell and taste at the same time. Needless to say, this at-home class contains a myriad of unique characters that Rowan enjoys while learning online.
And then there are the four-legged friends who have taken over the role of “teacher’s pet,” like Alberto Martin’s cat, Luna. Mr. Martin is a statistics teacher at Catalina Foothills High School and Luna is a 9-year-old cat who shows off her unique meow while Mr. Martin is teaching. According to him, Luna didn’t get enough vocalization practice as a kitten, which has resulted in her meow sounding more like a mix between a chirp and a yowl.
“She will always poke her head into view and meow at the students,” Mr. Martin said.
As the demands of teaching and learning through a screen have posed new challenges, for some, pets have added joy and surprises. QCBN
By Bella Wexler, QCBN