Video: Teacher’s New Graphic Novel Captures COVID’s Impact on His Students

Adam Bessie is a community college professor whose graphic novel, 'Going Remote: A Teacher's Journey', traces COVID's impact on marginalized students.

When author and community college teacher Adam Bessie returned from a sabbatical to his community college in January 2020, he’d just recovered from a bout of chemotherapy.

That’s where Going Remote: a Teacher’s Journey begins. His graphic novel follows not only his journey with brain cancer, but also his passion for teaching community college. “A lot of the cancer story,” Bessie said, “is part of who I am as a teacher.” He had long enjoyed the infectious energy and “electrical current,” as he calls it in the book, that flows through an engaged classroom.

He felt “profound joy” re-entering class, he said. But then he experienced the profound irony that as soon as he returned to campus, everyone left because of the Pandemic. That’s when he began writing his book.

The novel “really comes immediately from the experience of going online,” he says. Read an excerpt from the book right here

While Zoom tethered his students together during the crisis, he writes in his book, it also came with its own strict demands: access to a computer, stable Wi-Fi and a quiet study space, all parameters “set by the software requirements,” not educators. He said giving in to these demands could threaten community colleges’ open access mission, squeezing out the neediest students — the very students they’re designed to uplift. 

Bessie says he loves community college for its promise, where students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and all ethnicities come together to form a community. “It gives me a lot of hope,” he said, “for the future of our democracy.

So far the book is garnering praise: Publishers Weekly gave it a coveted “starred” review, calling it “poignant” and excerpting one of the chapters. It also named it one of Spring 2023’s Top 10 graphic novels and adult comics. Watch our profile of Bessie, and see parts of the book, right here. 

—Produced by James Fields

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