NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Although the pandemic presented many challenges for teachers everywhere, it was no match for the fun, quirky and dance-filled lessons one Newport News teacher had for her students.

In her nine years as a teacher, Emily Voss makes learning fun with “brain breaks” for her students at Carver Elementary School, which typically involve dancing.

Voss says she became a teacher because she wanted to make learning fun for students, something she says she desperately wished her teachers would’ve done for her when she was in school.

The mix between being goofy and serious times teaches her students about when it’s okay to let loose and relax a little.

“They just want to do well,” she said. “They want to strive, work harder, experience new challenges, and it’s the confidence that comes along with that, when you create that community.

Jada Patterson has been Voss’ teacher-in-resident during this school year as she finishes up her Masters at Christopher Newport University.

She said she was definitely a little intimidated to be working in a classroom this year, as there was a lot of uncertainty over whether students would even come back to the classroom and how it would be handled.

Not to mention, virtual learning has presented many challenges for teachers to overcome, most importantly keeping students engaged.

Throughout the year, Patterson says she saw firsthand the importance of building a community in the classroom through Voss’s community-classroom building approach.

“Do a morning greeting, and then having sharing time and doing a fun activity and just kind of building a relationship better with the kids, it did go better with teaching the lesson,” said Patterson.

Voss says their brain breaks not only help keep students engaged, but it makes them try harder when they know their teacher cares about them.

“To know that you are bringing pride to them and you are showing them that you love and care about them and their well-being, it just makes you want to be happy,” she said.

Voss also says she couldn’t have gotten through the last year without the never-ending support from her fellow teachers and staff at Carver Elementary.