PHOENIX — If teaching wasn't already hard enough, molding young minds during a pandemic adds unmeasurable challenges.
One Valley school faced with a lack of resources is meeting the challenge by dividing up the to-do list – among dedicated teachers.
Every single student at St. Matthew Catholic School qualifies for free or reduced meals.
This means about 130 students rely on the school to provide sometimes two meals a day, healthcare in some cases, and of course, an education.
However, what the school may lack in dollars - they make up in a determination to find opportunities for underserved youth.
“Everybody pitches in to help where there are needs,” said Mike Bradley while driving a small group of students to an after-school program.
Mike Bradley's job title is a fifth-grade teacher. On Monday's it's his turn on the rotation to take a bus of kids to an after-school program just two miles from the school.
The pandemic shut down the shuttle that typically takes them. That led teachers to step up and they now share the duty of taking students to a place where they can get academic help, socialize with others, and have access to food.
"They have a place to go that’s safe,” said Bradley.
Putting the next day’s lesson plan on hold to drive a bus is far from the only extra hat these teachers wear to help students.
In addition to being a fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Bradley is also the basketball coach, he's in charge of the student council, he helps in the cafeteria - and he's the assistant principal.
As for Principal Christine Tax, she's also the nurse.
"We don't have a nurse; we can't afford one,” said Tax.
She says all bi-weekly COVID testing goes through her office. She explained all students are tested on Tuesday and Thursday. The swabs are pooled at the grade level and if anyone comes back positive, they rapid test the students.
A lengthy but necessary process for someone who had to be trained on the fly.
There're ten teachers at St. Matthew, all with additional jobs that exceed their training.
"Honestly, I've never had a staff member complain about it,” said Tax.
In the mind and heart of those in charge of the next generation - the busy hands lead to full hearts.
“There's something to be said about the good in other people. The good in people coming together for a common goal, that to me makes my day here worth it. [It] is just seeing my staff come together for the kids," Tax said.