SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — An elementary school reading specialist is being highlighted for her work to help students learn virtually during the pandemic.

Kathy Jay is a Title I reading specialist at Hardy Elementary and has been in education for nearly 40 years. Jay says she was worried she would not be able to learn all of the new technology to teach at the beginning of the pandemic, but like she tells her students to push through, Jay did too.

“It was horrible!” she said “Because, I am so close to retirement. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Once we got into it and I started seeing it, because I’m a reading teacher I could see my kids one at a time, it was wonderful. It was almost like tutoring through the internet. I started looking forward to them.”

Jay, who is originally from Pennsylvania, not only learned the technology needed to teach virtually, but she went out of her way to help get kids at home the books and resources needed. 

She says her years in education have been worth it.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for grace and mercy and my leaders taking the time to show me,” Jay said.

She also says her students make it easy for her to come to work passionate every day. 

Jay was shocked when she found out she was nominated as an Excellent Educator.

“It’s been a grand honor. I’ve been nominated for teacher of the years sometimes, but I’ve never had anything like this. I’m on my way out but this is exciting!,” she said.

She says she plans on retiring in two years, and never expected she’d be in education this long.

“It’s been a good road.”