Stepping up to care for students and community - Part 2
It's the second week of school closures and our members are still hard at work serving our students, their families and our communities. They are getting creative in how they show support and care. Here are this week's stories.
Last Monday, before the stay at home order from Gov. Jay Inslee, Stanwood-Camano EA member, and Cedarhome Elementary first grade teacher Jane Lenz, said she saw a picture on Facebook of a “car parade” educators pulled off in Texas. After a couple of other staff members at Cedarcrest thought it would be great to replicate the parade, PE teacher Trent Campbell created a route map. The map was emailed to all staff at the school and car signs were made. No carpooling, of course. Teachers sent an email to their own classes to share the parade route with parents. Thirty-three cars with teachers and support staff drove by waving to students and families so they could connect and be a visible presence for the students. “We wanted to reassure them that we are thinking of them every day and that we will see them again,” Lenz says. “One of the most wonderful parts, in my mind, was to see our own staff smiling, laughing, shedding a few tears. We all needed the pick-me-up, and we will do it again in some weeks.” Go to @wa_education to see the video.
Vancouver EA member "Jennifer Patton, an elementary school art teacher who works with disabled students, has been donning homemade costumes every afternoon since schools closed a week ago due to concerns about the coronavirus. From there, she clambers onto her bicycle or tricycle and heads out for a ride around the block in her Edgewood Park neighborhood. She’s got a garage full of costumes, she said, dating back to the years she spent as a kindergarten teacher who dressed in costume almost daily. In the last week she’s been an octopus, Glenda the Good Witch and Evel Knievel. On Monday before the order came, she was joined by a few costumed-riders at a safe distance behind her. In Tuesday’s rain, she donned a yellow jacket a la the character Coraline from the movie and Neil Gaiman book by the same name. 'This is what I can do,” she said. “It’s something simple.'” Read the full story.
The three teachers and one secretary at Phoenix High School in Kennewick are used to doing things differently. With just 60 students -- ages 14-21 -- the project-based learning school is proud of the “student voice/student choice” mission. With the world turned upside down by COIVD-19, the teachers have been working hard to ensure that their students have access to the resources they need to be healthy and successful. Sarah Ard, Jill Mulhausen and Patrick Yecha have contacted Phoenix students and their families with phone calls, e-mails, and google surveys to gather information about each student's current level of access to technology and the internet. With support from school secretary Tammy Weyer, they have been working to make sure all students (and their families) are able to access the district's current system for food distribution and meeting other basic student needs. With school buildings shut down, Phoenix teachers are making sure that students still have access to their mental health teams. As the Phoenix staff finds gaps in support or unmet needs they advocate and find resources to get needed support to students. Like so many educators across Washington, Zoom meetings are a way that Phoenix teachers are staying connected as they plan and share resources and information.
Every year, during the first week of school, I bring out a ball of yarn and a list of things they may have in common. I read to them aloud and the students begin to pass around the ball of yarn. When they agree with something, they hold on to the string and will often wrap it around their hands or feet and pass it around the circle. They begin throwing it back and forth to one another. It becomes a huge tangled mess. They begin to see connections and by the end of the activity, there’s a tangled web and I ask a few students to tug at the yarn and it triggers movement. Some fall over in laughter while some yell out in frustration that another is tugging too hard. Read Ms. Acosta's full letter.
Because WEA Rep Assembly is cancelled, local president Kris Cameron reports that Wenatchee EA leaders decided to “repurpose the funds” they were going to use at RA to purchase gift cards at 40 plus local and independently owned restaurants. They are donating the gift cards to local health care workers who are on the front lines, tirelessly working to slow the spread of COVID-19. Members donned their red “We Teach Wenatchee” t-shirts to both purchase the gift cards and to deliver them to health care workers. Read more about this story here.
What is happening in your area of the state? Send us pictures and anecdotes to WEA@washingtonea.org, so we can share your hard work and dedication to Washington students and their families through these difficult times.