Lorain County Community College instructor goes extra mile to
give students tools to adapt music courses for remote learning
County Community College (LCCC) announced
remote delivery of courses to help reduce the spread of
music instructor Mark Jessie, DMA, quickly realized many
of his students didn’t have the materials they needed to
continue their courses at home. He immediately took on the task
of figuring out how to make the classes work for his students
and ultimately provided two musical keyboards and hand-delivered
numerous workbooks to students’ homes.
Jessie wanted to continue his classes in the best way possible.
“I knew what I wanted to accomplish. The question was how we get
there given our situation and limitations.”
When it was announced March 10, 2020 that classes would be going
remote, the Elyria resident and councilman checked in with his
piano class, collegiate chorale and vocal ensemble, and found
that two of his eight students didn’t have a keyboard at home.
“The only way this was going to work was if the other two had
keyboards,” he said he thought.
Jessie shortly went to work to find two keyboards. Through his
church, the First United Methodist Church in Elyria, he was able
to acquire a keyboard that wasn’t being used and delivered it to
a student at home.
20-year-old keyboarding student from Elyria, said she was “super
stoked” to get the keyboard. “I
thought it would be really hard to do music classes online since
everything is so hands-on.”
“I’m so grateful” for the keyboard, the music major said. “Not a
lot of people would go out of their way to get things for the
students, but Dr. Jessie was kind enough to keep me in his brain
and think of me…My piano skills have honestly gotten way better
since I’m able to practice every day.” True plans to become a
vocal music teacher in the future.
Jessie found another keyboard for the other student to use from
the home of LCCC Arts and Humanities Dean Brenda Pongracz.
He also delivered that keyboard to the student’s home.
The instructor’s piano class now meets through short Zoom
lessons with each student one-on-one twice a week. “We’ve gotten
into a routine,” he said. “It’s worked out very well.”
Jessie also went the extra mile for his music theory class of 15
students. “I started struggling with how to do it when the
three-week (and ultimately full-term) remote announcement was
made,” he said. “I knew we could have class on Zoom but
in terms of their homework assignments there was a challenge. I
found out that only four out of 14 students had printers and
scanners at home.”
Because of the nature of the coursework assignments, the
students needed some way to complete and turn in paper
assignments. Jessie immediately asked for special permission to
come to campus alone to use a printer on March 24 right before
the stay-at-home order in Ohio came into effect.
Jessie went through materials and created a packet of any and
all information that students might need to finish the semester,
he said. The instructor then hand-delivered the large workbook
packets to the 11 students at their houses over the course of
six hours. “I was happy to do it,” he said.
“The students were very happy and appreciative.”
Jessie says online learning for the course is going fine. He
adapted the music theory class by splitting the students into
two meeting times on Zoom and giving assignments that can
be turned in via a cell phone photograph of workbook papers.
“The class Zoom meetings are an opportunity to check in,” Jessie
said. “The students have developed a strong friendship among
them as a class.”
Overall, Jessie sees his students for more than just students.
He expressed that he’s concerned about them on a personal level.
“Other instructors are doing the same kinds of things,” Jessie
said. “I know this the norm,” he said of the college’s culture
of care and helping students.
“We do what we can do to help people cope with the whole
situation. It’s what a college should be, looking at the total
wellbeing of students, not just the intellectual, but emotional
Jessie has taught at LCCC for three years and is active in the
community. A husband and father to four, and grandfather to
three, he was the choir director for Elyria High School during
his 23 years of teaching at the school before retiring in