COVID-19 Silver Lining: YC student earns credit tutoring YC staff member’s daughter

School closures nationwide had families scrambling for childcare in mid-March. Norma Ortega found both a babysitter and a tutor for her 7-year-old daughter across the street from her Prescott Valley home.

Norma’s neighbor, Amanda Schumacher, is not only a Yavapai College student and aspiring teacher, she is a friend who happened to need more classroom observation time this semester for her early childhood development program. The preschool she was assigned to observe had closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was panicking because I knew I needed more (observation) hours before the 25th of April,” Amanda said. “I had no plan for what I was going to do. I didn’t expect everything to be closed this long.”

Meanwhile Norma, who is YC’s coordinator of testing services, was among the last YC staff still showing up to work daily on the Prescott campus after the pandemic hit. She was needed to proctor tests in a safe and sanitary environment while the college worked rapidly to make assessment services available remotely.

“I still needed to come in so I did need to figure out what to do with my daughter,” said Norma, whose husband, Nicholas Brown, also is still working away from home. The couple welcomed their daughter into their home last fall and are looking forward to finalizing her adoption in May.

Norma addressed her childcare needs with Amanda, the neighbor with whom she had bonded during the February 2019 snowstorm and over their mutual Southern California roots. Norma’s daughter also had bonded with Amanda and her family over many gatherings together. “She was someone we already loved and trusted,” Norma said of Amanda.

Amanda jumped at the chance to help her friend and test her teaching skills. “I love every second of it,” she said toward the close of her second week on the job. “I’ve never been so comfortable doing something in my life.” As for her charge? “We love having her here. You couldn’t ask for a better student.”

For Amanda, Norma and one lucky 7-year-old, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unexpectedly positive impact on one important aspect of their lives – education.

“It’s a very beneficial kind of arrangement,” Norma said. “We’re so grateful for Amanda and also for her instructors for letting her earn credit for her time with our daughter.”