PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – All this month, 10 On Your Side is recognizing teachers who have sacrificed over the past year for their students during a time in history no one will ever forget.

The spotlight is on Ellen Jones, a first-year seventh-grade Cradock Middle School U.S. history teacher who is taking virtual learning to the next level.

She’s a former professor, who taught at several colleges and universities, but then enrolled in the career-switcher program at ODU. She decided to continue teaching, but is now working for Portsmouth Public Schools as a middle school teacher.

“I started feeling like I might be able to make a bigger difference for students if I got to them sooner,” Jones said.

When it comes to technology and computers, Jones exceeds expectations in those departments as an instructor for her students.

“She took it amongst herself to go out and become Nearpod certified. She did that in an effort to bring the technology to the forefront for all the students here at Cradock,” said Cradock Middle School Principal Dr. Damon E. Cary.

Nearpod is an interactive student resource that makes it easy to use technology for learning purposes. It also helps teachers to stay connected and up-to-date on their students’ progress on assignments. A publisher that is one of Jones’ students’ favorite is called “Flocabulary.”

“’Flocabulary’ uses rap music,” Jones said. “You can get a sense of rhythm and the use of beat to give the information, which is the most popular music in this age group. It is something that the students are engaged in. It’s something that they enjoy.”

Cary is extremely proud of all Jones’ hard work and her willingness to do everything in her power to help her students succeed.

“When we had the pandemic, and everything had to go virtual, she still wanted to make the connection with the physicality that was missing with the students,” Cary said.

Jones never hesitated in her first year of teaching. She is always in constant communication with parents, and makes sure to reach out to them to make sure they are aware of what’s going on.

“The parents really deserve some kudos, those that will say ‘yeah, I don’t know what I even need to know, but I need to know something,'” said Jones.

The majority of her students have benefited from her teaching, and her main goal is to make sure her students not only learn, but can relate her lessons to everyday life.