This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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This interview was conducted virtually with Anna Padgett on December 11, 2020 from her temporary residence in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Anna is an early childhood educator based in New York City. Anna begins this interview discussing her temporary living situation, which will continue until she moves into her new home that is under renovation. For four years, Anna was in the process of buying an affordable apartment, which she finally purchased just as she experienced a 25% pay cut at the independent school where she has worked as an early educator for nine years. Anna talks in detail about this pay cut and its implications. She shares that this decision was made by board members, who are corporate executives and who seem out of touch with the impact of this cut on teachers’ lives; many teachers are seeking second jobs to supplement their income. She talks about how this pay cut only impacted early educators, and notes how it has divided teachers at the school. Anna has become close with her early education colleagues and has been happy to see some people speak out in ways she did not expect. Anna discusses the challenges of hybrid learning during COVID-19. She talks about how these disruptions have made it difficult for her to set up her usual learning environment that she meticulously plans for in lessons, language, and guidelines. Despite these challenges, Anna shares some routines she created for a successful virtual learning space with her four-year-old students, and some changes she has made for safe in-person learning, when children often struggle to observe social distance. She is moved that kids so easily accept virtual learning and masked learning as realities and that they show trust for grown-ups. Anna reflects that she is going to make the best of this moment despite challenges.
This interview would be of interest to those interested in early childhood education, progressive education, virtual and hybrid learning during COVID-19, and teacher pay.
Diana Lempel is a mother of two young boys and a descendant of 20th century Italian immigrants, Mayflower passengers, and at least one professional medium. Her world-making combines women’s and family history with fiction and performance, and a strong attention to place, community, magic, and labor. Diana has served as the Mass Humanities Scholar in Residence for the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival, the Doing History Curator at the Cambridge Historical Society, and the Researcher in Residence at the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park’s exhibition “Visionary New England.” She received a MUP in Urban Planning + Design and an MA in Landscape Studies from Harvard University.
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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.