by Michael Ward
Erase the Space is excited to restart our blog with posts about teachers involved in classroom exchanges. Our blog is always written and curated by our student interns, and this year’s posts are especially exciting because we are facilitating classroom exchanges for the first time since 2020 when the pandemic hit and schools closed in-person instruction.
Our first “teacher feature” is Laura Risaliti of Olentangy High School. Laura grew up in a family of educators and chose to go down the same path because she wanted to be in a career where “she was doing something good everyday and trying to better the world.” She chose English because to her it is a great position to help aid the next generation in the process of becoming better than the previous and says she “felt like that’s where you can have tough conversations and look more at things like critical thinking and the humanities.”
When asked how her perspective has changed since the last Erase The Space exchange she said “she’s become more knowledgeable and has realized even more how important these issues are and they need to be shared with her students and the world.”
The summer 2020 showed her she needs to become more direct in teaching her students about inequity. Believing a lot of people shy away from those conversations out of fear of being the villain, she took it up to herself to lead those conversations and participate in Erace The Space saying, “As educators we need to be on the front lines of those conversations.”
Laura and Derek Burtch are working with students at Olentangy High School to exchange and collaborate with students at South High Schools in Columbus along with South HS teachers Dan O’Grady and Nick Casale. We’re looking forward to their process this year and the in-person meeting for students in May!
Michael Ward is a senior at Olentangy Orange High School. He is passionate about social justice and has been active in different movements from the summer of 2020 on.