New Virtual Show “Exchanges” Connects Community Leaders


The coronavirus has dramatically changed roles and routines for many people. Among those are teachers who in mid-March – sometimes with only a weekend to prepare – suddenly had to teach their students remotely over an internet connection. Their classrooms were shut down and classes were now in their students’ bedrooms, or at their dining room tables. Some students are taking care of younger siblings even as they tune in to their teachers and see their classmates in little windows on their computer screens. 

Seven teachers from high schools and middle schools in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Fremont, and San Francisco gathered on a recent Zoom session to exchange their experiences since their physical schools shuttered with host Elliot Margolies of Midpen Media. What have they learned? What does it mean to be a teacher during shelter-in-place? 

Mary Anne Kochenderfer is a Ravenswood Middle School music teacher in East Palo Alto who had to pivot from teaching band instruments to a whole new music curriculum since most of her students did not have instruments at home. Margarita Mendez, a Spanish teacher at Fletcher Middle School in Palo Alto said that her students have expressed their sadness of all they are missing as they shelter in their homes. Her 8th graders, in particular, are missing their graduation celebrations as they finish middle school. She yearns for the day that she can give high fives and have her students back in the classroom with her. 

This is the second program in a series of shows called “Exchanges,” focused on enabling various groups to discuss how their lives have been changed. The first episode featured a group of clergy leaders. The programs themselves are made from recorded Zoom sessions, the same platform now used by the clergy for religious services and by teachers for their virtual classes. Additional episodes of “Exchanges” are in pre-production with healthcare workers and with people who are sheltering in place alone.

The programs are made possible by the R. Lacey Civic Initiative Fund and produced by Midpen Media which is now training community volunteers on how to produce and edit Zoom programs. For more information on “Exchanges” or on making your own Zoom program contact Elliot Margolies at elliot@midpenmedia.org.