Biology teacher takes leave of absence

Anxiety towards hybrid model leads to decision

Sophia Curran-Moore

Biology teacher Kristen Moravetz said goodbye to her biology students and started her leave of absence Oct. 23. She taught at Park for almost 10 years and she plans on returning next year. Moravetz said coming to the decision to go on leave was very difficult.

“I like being a team player, and there’s a big part of me that feels like I’m leaving when the getting going is tough and that’s hard. There’s no good choice, and I’ve second-guessed my decision every day since I’ve made it,” Moravetz said. “I still really love being a teacher, and I’m going to miss my students and miss my identity as a teacher.”

According to Moravetz’s student, Emily Hoffman, her learning experience was enhanced due to Moravetz’s vitality.

“I’m sad that she is leaving. I really liked having her as a teacher, and I would’ve liked to meet her in person,” Hoffman said. “I like that she’s really energetic and you can tell that she’s passionate about what she teaches.”

Moravetz said one reason she’s going on leave is that the hybrid model brings about stress and resurgence of past trauma.

“I lost (a family member) to a drunk driver when I was young and my whole life I’ve wondered, ‘oh, if only I had done something different.’ We try to find control in the things we don’t have any control over,” Moravetz said. “I found myself getting very anxious (about hybrid). I worried that the worst could happen. When I started really toying with the decision of going on a leave, I was feeling less anxious.”

Kinsey Allen, Moravetz’s replacement, was briefly a student teacher at Park several years ago. Allen said she took this job because it is more gratifying than her previous job in accounting.

“It does feel really good to be back at St. Louis Park because it’s fun and there are good kids too. I feel like I’m going to like it a lot,” Allen said. “It’s so much more rewarding than my other job was.”

I’m going to miss my students and miss my identity as a teacher.”

— Kristen Moravetz

According to Moravetz, teaching in a hybrid model would hurt her and her husband’s work performance as well as their parenting.

“I have two kids. They’re in daycare. If somebody in one of their classes tests positive or has a positive exposure, then (my children) have to quarantine for two weeks,” Moravetz said. “That’s really going to cut into my husband’s productivity. If I can’t work from home, then…I’m going to be needing to leave my husband high and dry to watch the kids so that I can do hybrid.”

Hoffman said she supports Moravetz’s decision and wishes that high school teachers had the option to teach from home.

“It’s a valid reason, and I totally understand wanting to be safe, and I wouldn’t want her to be in danger or to do something she’s uncomfortable with,” Hoffman said. “(Teachers) should have their safety prioritized just as much as the students, if not more because they’re older.”

Allen said Moravetz has been generous and has assisted her often, especially with teaching with electronic platforms.

“She’s made it very clear that she wants to help, so I am eager to ask her for help if I need it,” Allen said. “She’s really good at helping people…she set me up with all the technology.”