By Sarah Brunskill
While in the midst of a pandemic, who would have thought a paper shortage would almost be the end of us. That may be an overstatement, but for many of our teachers and staff here at Williamsville East, this shortage has wreaked havoc.
After winter break I made my way around the school interviewing many of the teachers and staff about the shortage. As I began my interviews in the main office, Mr. Suchyna immediately responded with “It’s real.” Lots of students at Williamsville East remember the beginning of the shortage when our teachers had to quickly adjust to this obstacle. The word quickly spread, especially since letters were out of the question (funny paper joke).
The entire school had to deal with the paper shortage. In the main office, I asked Mrs. DeSantis’s her reaction to the shortage, and she said,“What else could possibly happen to cause unnecessary stress in our building?” In the main office everyone worked together to keep things going. They all brainstormed new ways to minimize printing and find what old paper could be used. Even now, Mrs. DeSantis continues to use old letterheads for printing her work. Mrs. DeSantis’s reaction was something that many teachers felt throughout the building. I asked the teachers what their reaction was to the shortage when they first found out.
In the math office Ms. Costanzo — along with some other math teachers — said, “How are we going to deliver this message the same way with less resources?”
Madame Roberts, LOTE department, said it was a shock but she wasn’t surprised. She knew how much paper was needed with instruction and the physical aspect of learning.
In the science department, Mrs. Zelasko said she didn’t have much of a reaction. She felt that it was just one more thing to adapt to.
Adapting to the shortage was different for each department. But our teachers responded quickly and developed solutions.
The math department condensed papers by including two pages on one side, and they also used scrap paper —some of the scrap paper that was used was old Covid questionnaires. So, taking a math quiz on the back of a Covid questionnaire is something that only some of the students here at Williamsville East can say they’ve done.
For the French department, Madame Roberts waited it out and made copies from home. She mentioned that it wasn’t a lot but she printed some quizzes. She added that students would use personal notes for note taking. After being asked how she adapted Mrs. Roberts said, “Not easily but efficiently.”
In the science department, Mrs. Zelasko said they were still able to print notes, labs, quizzes, and tests. She posted her worksheets on Google Classroom along with extra resources. Mrs. Zelasko said that because we were online last year, she was able to pull up a lot of her resources online without much trouble.
For math, Ms. Costanzo said, “We tried our best, but it is very difficult, especially with students working. We went for reducing, not eliminating.” Collectively, almost all of the teachers agreed that math was affected the most. It’s difficult to teach students math without the hands-on experience of writing down the information.The math department included that it was so difficult because they don’t use a textbook like many of the other classes at East.
Mrs. DeSantis was right that the shortage added some unnecessary stress within our building. Regardless, our teachers learned to adjust to all kinds of crazy obstacles thrown at them. Compared to what they went through the past two years, a paper shortage can’t stop them. But if a paper shortage can do this much harm, who knows what a paper cut could do.