Michigan Education Association member Sarah VanderMeer says her heart aches from missing her developmental kindergartners from Brown Elementary School in Byron Center, so she checks in via FaceTime to see how they’re doing, setting up appointments through parents.
VanderMeer taps every tool at her disposal to keep kids connected and engaged during online chats and virtual book read-alouds — including Cinder, her parrot, who likes to sit on her shoulder and chatter, often breaking the ice with less talkative children.
“I think of my students, and I pray for their health and well-being every night,” says VanderMeer. “I didn’t want this, and neither did they.”
Across Michigan, educators from every job classification have acted as emotional and physical first-responders in their communities, helping students adjust to the new normal of social distancing, home isolation and economic shutdown.