CP Photo: Kaycee Orwig
In his 11 years of teaching at City Charter High School, Nathan Budziszewski has never faced a school year quite like this one.
Like most of his peers across the country, the beloved business and technology teacher from Bethel Park has had to shift his teaching style to accommodate the ever-changing health crisis.
Because City Charter’s unique educational structure places a large emphasis on relationship-building between students and teachers, this transition has been particularly challenging for Budziszewski. Teachers and students are sorted into cohorts at the beginning of their freshman year and continue their educational experience with that same group for all four years.
“We have the rally cry ‘relationships matter,’” says Budziszewski.
Now, in a time of hyper-isolation, Budziszewski and his colleagues at City Charter have reworked their entire educational approach, while still keeping strong student-teacher relationships at the forefront.
“Our school has been really thoughtful in our approach,” says Budziszewski, noting the holistic approach City Charter’s administration has taken in addressing the needs of all stakeholders in their school system.
Budziszewski applauds the difficult, yet rewarding work his peers have been doing for the past year. He says the greatest accomplishments and stories of teachers during the pandemic will likely go untold as private moments where educators have gone above and beyond for their students.
Budziszewski says the defining attitude of this time has been “overwhelming acts of selflessness.”
Whether it be checking in with a student about their personal life, staying up all hours of the night to answer homework questions, or even delivering laptops to students in need, Budziszewski says he and his coworkers have done it all to ensure every student is receiving the attention they need to succeed.
“Sometimes it’s not about you,” says Budziszewski. “You’re not always the most important person in that room.”
While the pandemic and civil strife across the country has been, and will continue to be, a challenge to digest and process, Budziszewski says the best thing he can do for his students and coworkers is “being present” both physically (or virtually) and emotionally.
Budziszewski says he strives to create “a place where everyone can feel heard and seen.”
Despite the challenges of remote teaching, Budziszewski remains motivated to maintain this attitude of sacrifice and positivity through the remarkable examples of his students and peers.
“My students are tremendous,” he says.
Throughout this process and his career, Budziszewski says he tries to “find joy in a lot of things,” learning valuable life lessons on humility, sacrifice, and kindness from his students and colleagues on a daily basis.
“I think you can learn a great lesson from someone every day,” Budziszewski says.
As Budziszewski and his students continue to learn from each other in this new learning format, he says he aims to teach with understanding and compassion.
“Everyone is doing the best they can,” says Budziszewski. “Never assume otherwise.”