For parents and students across Central Florida, adapting to online learning has been a challenge and when a teacher is unavailable to better explain the assignment, it becomes even more difficult for families.
These new challenges prompted a few University of Central Florida staff members to come together and create the Teachers for Parents Hotline.
"As a former classroom teacher, I realized that the teachers would have a strong need to reach out to parents," Pamela "Sissi" Carroll, the dean of UCF's College of Community Innovation and Education said. "I knew that that would be a really tough experience but I didn't have the perspective as a parent would for trying to balance doing school work with my children and doing my own job."
Someone who could relate was Kelli Morales, Carroll’s executive assistant.
“Teaching is not my profession,” Morales said.
In March, when the pandemic closed Florida schools and pivoted to online learning, Morales struggled to help her children with schoolwork.
“As a parent of three, I just was not confident in helping my children in certain subjects. I have middle schoolers and they have some pretty tough subjects,” she said.
After they both talked about those frustrating moments, they said a partial solution would be for parents and students to have access to faculty and staff members who have extensive knowledge in a variety of subject matters.
“At the University of Central Florida we prepare more teachers for classrooms than any other university in the state,” Carroll said. “From pre-kindergarten through high school and beyond and in special education. We also have staff and faculty members who will address questions related to behavior, motivation, those kinds of issues.”
The Teachers for Parents hotline has about 35 UCF faculty and staff members available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. Carroll said they also have volunteers to assist with non-English speakers.
"We do have a couple of faculty members who are speakers of Spanish who have eagerly volunteered. We have a couple of faculty and staff members who are speakers of Haitian creole," Carroll said.
The hotline is free of charge and callers do not have to be affiliated to UCF. If a call is made after 5 p.m., a staff member will respond within 24 hours.
The hotline is available at 407-238-0687. Emails requesting assistance can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.