IT Infrastructure & Management

High School Teacher Battling Cancer Skypes His Lessons

By McClatchy-Tribune — June 15, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About once every three weeks, Brother James Kelly didn’t feel well enough to teach because of the chemotherapy he was receiving to fight his prostate cancer.

Yet instead of giving the 28 students in his third-period honors British literature class at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore a day off, some busywork, or a substitute teacher, Kelly utilized Skype, a software application that allows for real-time videoconferencing.

“I get to sit while it’s going, so I’m not exerting as much energy as I might if I were in the classroom walking around,” says Kelly. “I see the kids so I can watch the classroom dynamic.

“It’s different,” says Kelly, who also is president of the all-boys Catholic high school, “but I think I’m still able to engage them.”

On the first day of class, juniors Robert Stryjewski and Brent Hartley remembered walking into the classroom and seeing Kelly’s image projected onto a 4-by-6-foot whiteboard.

“It was a bit weird at first because it was different than anything we’ve ever had before,” Stryjewski says. “After a few times of him doing it, it got to be a normal everyday class, basically.”

Hartley agrees.“The first day was kind of awkward just because you have to speak really loud because there’s a speaker in the middle of the classroom,” Hartley says. “After a couple of weeks, I got used to it.”

Even without a teacher present, Kelly says the students don’t often act out.

“The kids are very aware of what I’m going through,” says Kelly, who has been at the school 10 years. “They don’t give me grief. They wouldn’t get away with it if they tried.”

Mary Ellen Dolan, Kelly’s administrative assistant, watches the students in the room and will write things on the board when Kelly needs to show something.

Having the ability to see each other was important to Kelly. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to see them,” he says. “If I couldn’t see them, I wouldn’t be able to teach them.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 15, 2011 edition of Digital Directions as High School Teacher Battling Cancer Skypes His Lessons


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure & Management One Solution to Maintaining 1-to-1 Devices? Pay Students to Repair Them
Hiring students to help with the repair process is one way school districts are ensuring the sustainability of their 1-to-1 programs.
4 min read
Sawyer Wendt, a student intern for the Altoona school district’s IT department, repairs a Chromebook.
Sawyer Wendt, who's been a student intern for the Altoona district's tech department since junior year, is now studying IT software development in college.
Courtesy of Jevin Stangel, IT technician for the Altoona school district
IT Infrastructure & Management Schools Get Relief on Chromebook Replacements. Google Extends Device Support to 10 Years
Schools have typically had to replace Chromebooks every three to five years.
4 min read
Photo of teacher working with student on laptop computer.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
IT Infrastructure & Management What We Know About District Tech Leaders, in Charts
Male chief technology officers in K-12 tend to come from technological backgrounds while most female tech leaders are former teachers.
1 min read
Illustration concept of leadership, using wooden cut-out figures and arrows.
Liz Yap/Education Week via Canva
IT Infrastructure & Management How Schools Can Avoid Wasting Money on Technology
A district leader shares ways to ensure ed-tech tools are worth the investment.
2 min read
Illustration of laptop with checklist on the screen
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty