Teachers, students and parents across Daviess County have become well-acquainted with the term distance learning over the last several months, but that phrase holds a unique — and quite literal — meaning for Daviess County Public School’s Virtual Academy.
Susan Lazarou, who currently resides in Nikisiani, Greece, has served DCPS 7th- and 8th-grade students as an online English teacher since the start of the 2020 school year. In her mind, the distance from her students hasn’t been problematic at all. In fact, she said she was drawn to the idea of distance learning.
“I love teaching virtually, and the student feedback about virtual learning has been very positive,” she said. “Students quickly acclimated to the pacing of an online classroom and we’ve already had deep, rich discussions in each of my classes.”
Lazarou got her start at DCPS in 2010 after being hired on to Daviess County High School’s English faculty. After that, she served as a college and career readiness counselor for DCPS along with Jeremy Camron for four years. She returned to the classroom for a year before leaving DCPS in 2018 to move to Europe and get married.
While she didn’t exactly return to the classroom this year, Lazarou has set up camp in a “spare room turned classroom” in Greece. Having previously worked at DCHS with Assistant Principal Chad Alward — who oversees DCPS’s Virtual Academy — Lazarou said she knew the online learning experience would be a positive one for everyone.
Despite an eight-hour time difference between Greece and Daviess County, Lazarou has managed to stay connected, innovative and explorative in using the opportunity — and geography — as a learning experience.
“Because my school day begins at 4 p.m., I occasionally share a village view with my ‘morning’ classes, though by Owensboro’s afternoon, it’s already dark here in Greece,” she said. “All my classes have been curious about Greek culture and I enjoy sharing my experiences with them. But the cultural exchange goes both ways — my students help me stay connected to Daviess County.”
Though Lazarou’s stay in Greece will be short-lived as she soon makes another move to Kublis, Switzerland, one of the biggest takeaways her travels have provided has come from learning, understanding and appreciating the deep, personal connection between her life in America and her life overseas.
“This small American city and lovely Greek village are now connected in a small way. I find it interesting because in many ways, the people in both places are alike — very generous, loving and caring,” she said. “One of the things that I hope my students will deeply understand is that, although customs and cultures vary, we are far more alike than we are different.”