Remote Learning Keeps UW in the High School Students Connected from Afar

Committed to keeping her students connected, Spanish teacher Evelyn Jiménez uses language to bridge cultures and engage students. 

We were all concerned, we were all staying home, and our classes were their connection.

 — Evelyn Jiménez

UW in the High School brings challenging University of Washington courses to high school students on their own high school campuses — or, in 2020, their home computer screens. The UW partners with high schools across the state to offer courses for college credit, taught by high school teachers like Evelyn Jiménez.

Students can challenge themselves scholastically and accumulate credit by passing the course — not taking an exam. As a dual credit program, high school students simultaneously earn both college and high school credit, giving themselves a head start on college before they even arrive.

For Evelyn Jiménez, a Spanish teacher at Mercer Island High School, there was so much uncertainty around how school would look as COVID-19 spread this March. But Evelyn was certain that, wherever class took place, she could count on her students.

“They were really up for the challenge and said, ‘we’re going to finish this out; we’re going to do it online, and we’re getting our college credit,’” Evelyn said. “I told them I wasn’t going to let them down, so that’s what we did — we got it done together.”

Though it was an adjustment to switch from in-person instruction to remote learning during the school year’s final semester, Evelyn made sure her Spanish class kept students connected from afar.

“We were all concerned, we were all staying home, and our classes were their connection,” she said. “In the classroom, we all had an opportunity to vent, to see how we’re doing, how we’re managing. Everybody’s struggling in some way, but if you can look at the positive side of being connected, then we can pull through together.”

Evelyn, who taught college science in her native Puerto Rico before moving to the Seattle area, loves teaching a new language to her students because it can bridge cultures — especially during times of crisis.

“Teaching languages is like planting seeds, which grow into a shared awareness that we are more alike than different,” she said. “We may speak different languages, but we have the same needs and the same goals. By learning a new language, we learn how to be more compassionate.”