by Robbie Owens | CBS 11

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Michelle Nogle who taught at Seguin High School in Arlington, says she was born to be a teacher, laughing as she shares one of her mother’s favorite childhood tales:

“The teacher had to stick her head out into the hallway and so I got up and said, `okay everyone– time to pick up your crayons … time to go down, it’s rug time.”

She laughs some more as she mimics her 5-year-old self, admitting that it’s not always a good thing for a bossy kindergartener to take over the classroom.

Many years later, it was a dream realized when a classroom became her own.

Then came Covid-19.

With virtual instruction ending, she began exploring options.

“I emailed HR and said, ‘hey, can I get an accommodation? I have elderly parents. I’m worried about my own health, I don’t feel safe coming to campus.’ They referred that back to my principal to make that ultimate decision and he was like `nothing we can do’.”

Michelle Nogle (CBS 11)

Her request denied, the high school history teacher began exhausting her paid leave to avoid returning to the campus– all while continuing to teacher her classes from home. She says a substitute would come into the classroom daily to turn on the monitors.

“Still teaching. Still grading. Still doing the whole 9,” says Nogle.

Arlington ISD responded to CBS 11’s request for comment with a statement attributed to Supt. Marcelo Cavazos, saying, “Safety was our No. 1 priority and that reasonable accommodations, when and where appropriate, would be made for employees with personal medical conditions and other needs. Employees are offered multiple solutions including temporary work accommodations, FMLA, EFMLA, FFCRA and unpaid leave. The district has not requested resignations from employees due to COVID related restrictions.”

“I just didn’t see the point of doing the extended leave and still not working, still not being with my kids. Not getting a paycheck,” says Nogle who says she even offered to cover the cost of the substitute. So, I resigned,” while admitting the difficulty of the decision. “It was horrible.”

The teacher who prior to Covid-19 could be counted on to dress up during spirit days and chaperone events says she had connected with her online scholars and saying goodbye was hard.

“One of my students during class, he started a petition.. he started it right then and there. And I’m in tears, I’m just sobbing… they’re putting messages the chat. `This is crazy. This is ridiculous’.”

And this is also, says Nogle, a symptom of a bigger issue facing teachers in North Texas and beyond.

“Not trying to point fingers or point blame. I think this is a much greater issue of teachers not being valued and not being given a choice.”

The now former teacher says she has no issue with parents who opt for in-person instruction. She’s leaving a career that she loves because teachers are not given that same choice.

“I was able to make this decision– to stay at home as long as I could and then to resign when I didn’t have any other option. And so many other teachers can’t do that,” Nogle says, in spite of their concerns.

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