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Teacher Appreciation Week: Meet a math teacher who stepped up when pandemic struck

When schools and businesses shut down at the start of the pandemic, essential workers had to scramble to find child care -- until the city’s Department of Education offered an option.

News 12 Staff

May 8, 2021, 12:30 AM

Updated 1,141 days ago

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When schools and businesses shut down at the start of the pandemic, essential workers had to scramble to find child care -- until the city’s Department of Education offered an option. 
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close, News 12 caught up with one teacher who worked as a regional enrichment center supervisor.
Last March, schools shut down as New Yorkers sheltered in place, but essential workers still had to head out-- which left their children without caretakers
“If they don't have a place to put their children, these nurses, doctors, you know MTA, fire department, police, they can't do their job,” says Vito Palmeri.
The city’s DOE moved quickly to make sure no child was left behind.
The department set up regional enrichment centers. 
Palmeri, a JHS 218 teacher, signed up to help as soon as possible. It wasn't his first time stepping in during a time of great need. 
"You know on 9/11 I worked at ground zero, I'm on that list as well. I worked at ground zero for over a year,” says Palmeri.
The math teacher educated his own students while ensuring children at the center were being fed and getting free time. They still made sure all the children were on top of their studies. 
"We tried to maintain education for the kids. We would help them log into their classrooms. We made sure that they were doing their work. We made sure that every student if they had work missing, we made it up with them,” he says.
The center closed in September as schools reopened. The educator says the experience prepared him for the new normal of teaching this school year  


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