Alesha Munk covers the front desk at her husband’s dentistry in Nyssa. Munk was recently awarded Nyssa Citizen of the Year. (The Enterprise/Austin Johnson).
NYSSA - Moe Adams is a single mother of three. When the pandemic sent her children from the classroom to her living room, she had to make a decision.
“I told my (boss) that I was going to have to bring my kids to work. We have a break room upstairs I thought they could do work in,” said Adams, who works at Munk Family Dental. “I said, ‘It’s either that, or I need to take time off.’”
In stepped Alesha Munk.
Munk, whose husband owns Munk Family Dental, was adapting to the virtual classroom with her own four children and offered to watch Adams’ children while she was at work.
“I kept feeling before the school year started that I’m blessed to be able to stay at home and take care of my kids. But there are so many who aren’t in that situation,” said Munk. “Working moms who work so hard and want the best for their children, but can’t be there to help support their children.”
Located in an empty studio space in Nyssa, “The Classroom” was Munk’s solution to help struggling parents in the area.
That effort recently earned her citation as Nyssa Citizen of the Year by the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
“I’m certainly not someone to toot my own horn but it’s always nice to be acknowledged for the work you do,” said Munk, who’s lived in Nyssa with her family for 8 years.
Since moving here, Munk, who is a stay at home mom, said she tries to stay involved with the school as much as possible, volunteering for field trips, sporting events and within the classroom. Munk has also volunteered with the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce and Nyssa Parks and Recreation.
Munk established “The Classroom” as a place to help her children and Adams’ children navigate online learning. The operation grew as more parents in the area caught wind of the co-op classroom.
Most days Munk was supervising between 10 to 12 children from Nyssa, Ontario, Willowcreek and Vale.
“Every day they came in and I had 26 alarms set on my phone. I’d say, ‘Suzie, it’s time for you to log on, Johnny, it’s time for your book club,’” said Munk. “It was a big juggling act but at the same time it was so rewarding.”
Children would get dropped off around 7:30 a.m. and parents would pick them up after work — usually around 5 p.m.
During school hours, Munk spent most of her time making sure students got to class on time and that everyone’s technology worked.
“There were a lot of technical issues because it was all online. It seemed like every week someone’s hotspot wasn’t working and (Munk) would have to fix that. She also kept in touch with all the teachers while I was at work,” said Adams.
After classes, the students would spend at a local park or in the “social area,” which contained couches, books, games and other fun toys, many of which were donated by parents.
Munk said her favorite part of the experience was getting to know all the children and sharing memories as a group.
“It was a strange year for school but I think now looking back, they’ll all be able to say, ‘I remember that year when Mrs. Munk was helping out with my class,’” said Munk.
Munk enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to run for the Nyssa School Board and was elected in May. She takes office in July and said that one of her priorities will be to raise the wages for teachers.
News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.
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