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Classroom Hero: Adena Elementary School's Alena Smith embraces virtual learning

10TV teamed up with the Ohio Education Association and 97.1 The Fan to honor these heroes, making a difference in the lives of children.

FRANKFORT, Ohio — There is no doubt this has been a tough school year, but Ohio educators are embracing the change.

10TV teamed up with the Ohio Education Association and 97.1 The Fan to honor these heroes, making a difference in the lives of children.

This week's "Classroom Hero" is Alena Smith from Adena Elementary School. Smith teaches second grade to students online and in person at the same time during this pandemic.

"I felt like a brand-new teacher all over again," Smith said. "This is what it's all about: Educating our students, being able to reach them and connect with them no matter the barriers we have in front of us."

Smith was nominated by Melissa Compher. Compher's daughter, Emily, is in her class and learning virtually right now.

"I know a lot of parents were concerned about doing online learning and being a teacher. For me, it's totally opposite. I don't have to teach her. Mrs. Smith covers all of that," Compher said. "Emily started the school year doing math that she didn't know how to do and now she knows how to."

Smith said her goal is to make sure online students feel like they're in the classroom. She has turned herself into an expressive cartoon avatar called a "Bitmoji" and keeps virtual lessons fun and interactive.

"I love working with children. I love seeing that light bulb go off when they learn a concept," she said. "They're like a sponge. They're ready to learn. They're ready to grasp. They love you. I love my students."

Emily Compher said she is happy Mrs. Smith is her teacher.

"She's a really nice person," said the second-grade student. "I like her because she teaches really good, and I like her a lot because she works really hard."

Smith called her success a team effort, saying she is thankful for the support of her students and their families.

"They've embraced the challenge with me. We've navigated the waters together and I feel like I owe them a thank you for being patient," Smith said.

Each week we will spotlight a "Classroom Hero" on 10TV News. You can nominate teachers, coaches, or any staff member who is making an impact.

Click here to nominate your "Classroom Hero" today.