KEIZER, OR (KPTV) - This year, amid a pandemic, FOX 12 will regularly go inside Keizer Elementary to share the stories of teachers, staff and students firsthand, in a new series called "Keizer Strong."
FOX 12 most recently took a look at how the school is handling its more specialty classes, like physical education (PE) and music.
It's a class students often can't wait for.
“It’s something they can all relate to," said Jeff Crueger.
Crueger is talking about music. He teaches it at Keizer Elementary.
“Oh my heavens, the kids. It’s all about the kids," said Crueger. "That’s what it’s all about and when you get to teach something like music, you get to see them come alive and have fun.”
But this year, like other subjects, he teaches kids online.
“In distanced learning, we don’t have access to that synchronicity," said Crueger. "You can’t perform."
"There’s always a lag with the computer, because of technology, so that takes away one of the most critical aspects of what I do, which is the performing," he continued.
But he said there are a lot of other aspects to music he can teach.
“The beautiful thing about music is you can teach virtually any other subject with music," said Crueger. "Okay, so what I mean by that, rhythm is fractions.”
“And melody and pitch is all about science when you try and understand how waves are created and how the different wavelengths create different pitches," he continued.
Crueger said they're still hands-on as well, making music by clapping, snapping and patting.
“It’s something that everyone is just naturally, innately, responsive to and I think that’s an incredible gift and so it makes it easy to each," he said.
PE is another hands-on course now online.
“Our goal is we want to get our kids active and moving, because we noticed that they weren’t getting that without coming to school, coming to the gym, having recess," said Veronica Rhodes, a PE teacher at Keizer Elementary.
PE teachers at Keizer said the biggest challenge, working with each child's environment.
“A lot of times, they have parents working from home that need a quiet environment and then the student needs a quiet environment but that can’t always happen, especially in schools with poverty and, you know, there’s distractions," said PE teacher, Ronnie Meisenheimer. "There might be TV’s pulling their attention or food.”
But just like in music, they've learned to get creative, like having kids pretend play during class.
“We’re really trying to just keep them engaged and excited with the material we have and getting them moving," said Rhodes. "So, we’re secretly having them do exercises, but they think they’re in a video game or they’re playing a game to win a board game, so they don’t really know they’re moving and they’re having fun while moving.”
“Of course, we want them to be here, but it is working," said Meisenheimer. "We’re reaching the kids, the kids are super excited, the attendance is good.”
In both classes, the district sent materials home with the kids, so they have some PE equipment and musical instruments to help with online learning as well.