Student Mothers: Teaching and Learning During a Pandemic

EvCC students share their experience with schooling their children and themselves.


Courtesy of Bryanna Shepard

EvCC student Bryana Sheperd watching a lecture while cuddling with her child.

Distance learning has become the new normal for EvCC students, with some also acting as teachers for their children while balancing life during the shelter-in-place order.

“Homeschooling is proving to be a bit of a challenge because as parents we are suddenly jumping into this teacher role and at times it’s frustrating,” said EvCC student Bryana Shepherd.  “Juggling a 1-year-old as well as my son’s schooling and now adding in my own schooling is hard. My biggest concern is that one of our educations does not get the correct amount of attention to be successful.” Shepherd left her job recently to focus on school. This is her first quarter at EvCC.

“My only real frustration is the feeling of being trapped at home,” said Shepherd. As a mother she has become accustomed  to having the option to take her children to the store, a park or even the library. Shepherd and her children take daily walks to get a break from being inside.

EvCC student Gillian Wold and her 4-year-old son live with someone who is at high-risk for COVID-19. “I take personal protective precautions when going out for essentials. I order everything I can online. Our lives have been impacted greatly,” says Wold. “Our other household member hasn’t gone further than the trash can in over a month. We’re going stir crazy. It’s hard emotionally.”

Courtesy of Gillian Wold
Gillian Wold (pictured in middle) with her brother Joe Delaurentis (left) and sister Maria Treadwell (right).

As a full-time student and veteran, Wold is using the Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit called the GI Bill. The benefit provides full tuition and a monthly stipend, which let’s Wold focus on school. She is seeking employment, but many job opportunities are now on hold due to COVID-19.  

“I’m in the age range and gender category that’s least likely to contract, and least likely to die from the virus. I have no preexisting conditions,” Wold said. “I’m fortunate, and I know it. That being said, I’m not going to be reckless. I don’t want to be a statistic, and I don’t want to be an asymptomatic carrier and get anyone else sick. It’s serious, sure, but I don’t live scared.”

EvCC student Rohanie Cabezas works with homeless teens at Cocoon House in Everett. Her site takes care of teen parents and their babies. With many shelters for homeless youth closing during this time, she knows her clients would have nowhere else to go. Cabezas is also homeschooling her two children who are in elementary school.

Courtesy of Rohanie Cabezas
Rohanie Cabezas (pictured top right) at home with her family.

Cabezas quickly realized that she didn’t know what to teach her children and feels that teachers should be paid more. “The children have proven to be very resilient in adopting a new routine, but I have noticed unease and anxiety from both of them,” Cabezas said.

The mother of two has been anticipating graduation to be cancelled, though she was looking forward to being able to have an official celebration. “I’m the first one in my family to graduate with a degree, and it wasn’t easy,” Cabezas said. She is on schedule to complete her associate’s degree at the same time as her younger sister who is in Running Start at EvCC.

Amid the many changes, a new tradition has begun among Cabezas and her friends. Every Friday, they get dressed up for an evening at home on video chat with their favorite beverages in hand. “Every week we do something different, like play a game or watch a Netflix show,” Cabezas said. Sometimes friends invite other friends and their crowd has grown in numbers. “We want to make plans to all meet up in real life when the pandemic is over.”

Courtesy of Bryana Sheperd
Bryana Sheperd on a walk with her children.

Shepherd has also experienced some new benefits to being at home. “The virus has actually impacted our household for the better. We’ve had to really slow down our lives and now we take time to do things we didn’t before,” she said.

Wold is focused on protecting her son from exposure. “I’d do anything to keep him safe. I’m not complaining. We’ve watched tons of movies and built lots of forts – fun times for sure. I just want more for him,” she said. Adding, “Take it day by day, do what you have to. This will all be over soon enough. Starbucks and Target will be there when we’re set free.”