Stepping up to care for students and community - Part 3
It's the third 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.
We spoke with Bethel EA member and Kapowsin Elementary teacher Kristi Harson about how she's continuing to engage students during the COVID-19 school closures. Here was her incredible response:
Since the closure I've been working on creating videos and interactive music opportunities for our students that we are posting in our Specialist News Letter that we're calling The Cougar Connection Specialist Newsletter, posted weekly through Padlet. Basically I have turned my guest room at home into a make shift recording studio, just without any of the fancy equipment.
The idea for this particular song came as a suggestion from our fabulous Early Primary SPED teacher (Ms. Alisha Tucker). I wanted to make the video in a way that the students could interact and encourage them to sing along! With information and resources coming at parents from every direction during the closure I really wanted to make sure that the music content I am sending out is short and sweet and above all fun.
For a lot of students, Elementary Specials are an opportunity to step outside the box and exercise their creativity, and I wanted to make sure to give them that opportunity even if they are not in the Music Room with me. When you see every student in the school it's a little harder to keep up with each individual student during the closure, but our Specialist Newsletter includes a "shout-out" section where students are able to send us a photo or upload a short video to share their work. Even though we are still just getting started we have already received a few responses from students and we can't wait to hopefully see more when we come back from Spring Break after this week!
Vincent (a fourth grader from Arlington) and his family sing Pioneer Elementary School’s Friday song, Count on Me by Bruno Mars, because he says he missed his choir concert. Watching Vincent is Arlington EA teacher Julie Delaney who says she was slightly freaked out with the idea of teaching her kindergartners online, but after working with her team and enjoying the enthusiasm of her students at her first online class meeting, she is figuring out the whole new online learning and thinking about what she’ll be doing with students next week. Also pictured is Toby the Delaney’s dog. Read Julie's story here.
Gwen Riles, a Teamster and paraeducator in Highline, is smiling through her mask because she and her colleagues are supporting Highline Education Association members by distributing laptop computers to students at New Start High School, an alternative school in White Center, a part of the Highline School District.
While Highline EA members begin teaching online this week, Riles says, they have signed out 65 laptops and six hotspots to support their students at her school.
“We need more hotspots,” Riles says. “It’s an equity issue.” With one laptop going to families who don’t have them, other challenges include families with more than one child who might need use of the computers at the same time.
“It’s far from perfect, but at least we’re moving ahead. It’s not going to be the same, but we are doing something,” she says. “We’re all part of the same safety net. We need our students as much as they need us.”
Riles, an NBCT certified English as a New Language(ENL) educator says she was happy to see kids’ faces Monday as she supported a teacher in an online social studies class. The computers are being distributed through curbside pickup by paraeducators and other support staff who are both masked and gloved.
Spokane Public Language Immersion teachers and Spokane EA members, Doctora Nancy Gonzalez, Maestra Melina Rios and Maestra Jennifer Morris are reading storybooks in Spanish to keep their students reading during the COVID-19 schoolclosures. They are also scheduling short zoom meetings with their students in order to answer questions and stay connected. WEA members are going the extra mile to ensure that all students are not only still learning, but also feel cared for and connected. See Doctora Gonzalez reading
Edmonds EA PE teacher Jake Dalton and his whole family (including his paraeducator mom, Eileen Dalton) worked together to create a mini-food pantry in front of his parents’ home. He built the pantry with his brother, asked his sister-in-law to create the pantry sign and says he is proud of how the community filled the shelves within two days. He is working with counselors at his school to make sure all the perishables that are being dropped off are getting to families who need food. Read the full 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 work and dedication to support Washington students and their families through these difficult times.