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'I'm having too much fun with it' | Kocurek Elementary counselor connects with students through videos

"I want the kids to see that I'm going through it too. That's why you see me with messy hair and in pajamas."

AUSTIN, Texas — Kids are no stranger to videos on YouTube, whether they're educational or just goofy.

But for some students, the videos they're getting to watch every week helps them stay connected even if they're not at school.

"It's just something I wanted them to be able to watch with their family, push play and giggle – that's really all it was," said Angela Vera, the guidance counselor at Kocurek Elementary in Austin ISD.

For a guidance counselor, distance learning can be tough. Connecting with students is much easier face to face.

"So as the corona fun times have happened, I have been doing and recording my lessons online," she said. "I wanted to go above and beyond and put some stuff on Facebook where all families have access."

It's another way for her to connect.

"I want the kids to see that I'm going through it too. That's why you see me with messy hair and in pajamas, because I want the kids to relate and know I'm going through the same exact thing," she said. "That's kind of where it started, and I think I'm having too much fun with it."

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For parents of some of her students, it's a much-needed distraction.

"She puts the kids first, first and foremost," said Cristen Walter, whose kids attend Kocurek.

"I think it just comes naturally to her," said Maggie McCullough, another Kocurek parent. "It's a little bit of normalcy, seeing some outside faces. Some faces that are there to comfort them during the school year are there to comfort them during this odd school year when we aren't seeing them face to face."

"Right now it's just something that we all need," added Gloria Litt. "She's just taken it upon herself to create an environment that just feels very family-like."

"It's not just like monotone, or reading a book," added Walter. "She's engaging with them even through online learning.

"I know this is not our new normal, but it is new, and I would like the kids to feel normal," added Vera.

She's not the only one making videos for the students. Other teachers are all doing their part to stay connected with the kids. But for Vera it's the connection she brings that can help make students just feel normal.

"I just want the kids to have fun while learning," she added.

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