Educators trying to stay in contact with their students are going the extra mile – literally, with teachers on parade and making uplifting videos.
These might be the contacts that children remember most about their weeks out of school because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"They loved seeing their teachers," Jennifer Lazarz said of Williamsville Central's Maple West Elementary School parade of teachers earlier this month. "I even got a little teary-eyed."
Teachers from the school decorated their cars and drove through neighborhoods around the Maple Road school. Maizey Lazarz, 7, a second-grader, and her younger sister, June, 5, who is in preschool, wrote messages in chalk at the end of their driveway and waved at the teachers as they drove by.
From Frontier Central in Hamburg to Maple West to Anna Merritt Elementary in Lockport, teachers have taken to their cars to show support for students outside the virtual classroom. In the Pioneer Central School District, Delevan Elementary School physical education teachers did a drive-by Jumping Jack challenge this week.
Other schools are making videos of teachers saying hello from their homes to students, then posting them on their websites and YouTube. They feature some educators growing quarantine beards, and as well as teachers' own children and pets. Students get a glimpse of their favorite teacher at home and can check to see if teachers' dogs really do look like them.
At Lake Shore Central High School, English teacher Jill Morgan put together an 8-minute video of photos of teachers at home holding encouraging signs for their students. It's called Eagle Fly-by. The Eagle is the school mascot.
"She was feeling really sad, especially for her seniors," Principal Christine Koch said of Morgan. "She was feeling really sad that she wasn't able to see them every day, especially at the end of the year, that's the biggest time for seniors as they prepare to graduate from high school."
Morgan contacted a couple other teachers and asked about making something to let the kids know how much teachers miss them.
"She got a great response from the teachers. It's emotional. It brings tears to your eyes," Koch said.
The video, like videos from other schools, reminds students that there is a school family that misses them, and it gives the teachers a creative way to reach their students. Several other schools in the district have made videos, too.
Among the signs teachers were holding:
"We don’t need to witness your fitness, so rest a while then go run a mile!"
"Does science matter? One of you could create future cures. Be safe. # Eagle Pride Go outside in nature."
"Life is too short to be serious all the time. So, if you can’t laugh at yourself, call me… I will laugh at you. Go Eagles."
At West Seneca West and East high schools, in addition to videos, teachers placed Class of 2020 signs outside the homes of seniors.
Joe Cantafio, president of the West Seneca Teachers Association, said he misses his more than 100 students. He regularly talks to teachers from around the state, and the No. 1 topic of conversation is how to connect with the kids. They are using all sorts of platforms and formats to help them learn, he said, but it does not make up for not being in the classroom.
"There's nothing that compares to being in a classroom where you can catch a look on a student's face and know they got it," he said.
But it's not just about making the students feel good.
"The teachers reaching out to try to show how much they care is as much about us really needing to make sure our students know that we care as much as it is that we want them to feel that, too," Cantafio said.
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A sampling of the videos:
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Medina Central Schools:
Pioneer at Delevan Elementary Jumping Jack Fitness Drive By: 4/15/20Hundreds of jumping jacks, many smiling faces, 99 miles driven, and 6 hours of enjoyment to see our students! Delevan Elementary P.E. teachers Mr Gertis and Miss Miller arrived at students houses where students had to come outside and show 5 of their best jumping jacks, where in return we would do 5 jumping jacks back to the kids. P.E. social distancing style!!!
Posted by Pioneer at Delevan Physical Education on Thursday, April 16, 2020