Lea Serena, 2nd Grade Teacher & Frontline Hero

Lea Serena is 2nd grade teacher and member of the Boston Teachers Union. During the COVID19 crisis, Lea is balancing teaching from home and caring for her 4th grade son. Lea shares her story with us as part of the Greater Boston Labor Council's #FrontlineHeroes series. Our series profiles the work of union members and everyday heroes who are working throughout this global pandemic. To read other Frontline Hero stories, click here: https://gblc.us/tag/frontline-heroes.

Lea Serena is a single mom and second grade teacher at the Mather School in Dorchester, the same school she attended as a child. "Life has been crazy," she says. After contracting and recovering from COVID-19 early on, Lea knows first-hand the devastation the disease can bring to a family.

Lea manages a classroom of 29 students, a handful of whom have been impossible to reach after suffering illness and death in their own families. About 25 students meet with her daily, participating in 2 hour zoom class meetings and then additional one-on-one meetings in the afternoon. Lea can hardly get a break from her computer to check on her fourth grade son and help him with his schooling.

Prior to the crisis, Lea knew many of her students had difficult home situations, but the online learning has brought that into sharper focus and is heightening the inequities already present in society. The school’s student population is low income, and many students don’t even have basic supplies like paper and pencils at home.

The virtual classroom is flawed, but Lea knows how important her virtual meetings are in the lives of her students. Lea says, "The biggest thing I'm telling my kids is that learning can happen anywhere and it comes from the heart. Things are really hard and unpredictable, but as long as we have a way to communicate - you can learn anywhere and in so many different ways.”

Lea is a member of the Boston Teachers Union and is leading a parent-educator support group to help her fellow parent coworkers who are struggling with the balance of these new demands. The union continues to be the source of advocacy and agitation for Lea and her fellow educators, fighting for consistency and professional development, even in uncertain times.
Lea acknowledges that she and other teachers and parents will likely be facing these challenges for a long time to come: “We'll always fight hard to find ways to fill the gaps. We're going to have to find ways to adjust to this as the new normal and it's our responsibility as teachers to do that for our students."