OPPERAS COVE — Off-campus instruction for students can cause loneliness, isolation and feelings of despair. Although teachers are teaching students through video conferences several times a week, it is not the same as face-to-face interaction. Fairview/Miss Jewell Librarian Cristine Ragland virtually read to students the book, The Chalk Giraffe, about chalk pictures on a young girl’s driveway. She suggested to third grade teachers that chalk messages to students might be something to let students know they are not alone in these uncertain times.
“We are so close to all of our students, so we decided that we would go write chalk messages on all of their driveways,” third grade teacher Teresa Gorres said. “All five third grade teachers participated and there was never any hesitation on any of our parts. We drove 55 miles in six hours to complete the project. We had no idea we had traveled that many miles and were out that long. It was so fulfilling in our hearts to be able to spread the message to all of our students.”
Twice a week, Schoology conferences are conducted with students. Some students are not able to attend often or at all, and the teachers wanted all of the students to know they are missed.
“We wanted to show them that our love for them extends past the walls of our classroom and that we care for them where ever they are,” teacher Ben Wadsworth said.
For efficiency, school secretary, Tracye Smart, grouped the addresses of the students together based on where they lived. The teachers headed out on foot to visit students who live nearby the school and then continued by car. Parents nor students knew they were coming and were surprised to come out of the house and find the team of teachers in their driveways. Some waved from their windows as they watched; some came out on their front porches and watched.
The teachers and students gave air hugs and chatted about their excitement to see each other, even at a distance.
“We had no idea it would make such a big impact on our students when we decided to do it,” teacher Kasey Carlton said. “We just wanted them to know we care about them and miss them.”
Then, a barrage of emails, video messages and social media shout-outs from parents and students were sent to the teachers.
“We came home to a wonderful surprise! Thank you for making Emily smile,” parent Jennifer Moore wrote.
“Let me first say how freaking amazing you guys are,” parent Amber Hare said. “You guys had one busy day.”
“That was so sweet to stop by my house and write on my driveway. I was super excited, but sad we missed y’all,” said Destini Powell.
“It made my daughter’s day. She thought I staged it,” parent Jenny Zavala said. “Thank you. Y’all made a difference for her today.”
“It was the sweetest thing ever,” parent Jennifer Bailey said. “I was actually going to take pictures of it because i thought my daughter did it. She got chalk for her birthday and I thought she wrote it because she misses you all.”
CCISD Director of Counseling Rhonda Burnell says the school district values its students and families and will continue to maintain a sense of connectedness and hopefulness during this time.
“We have made sure that when our students walk outside the doors of their homes, they feel valued and remain connected to their schools,” Burnell said. “Their efforts show that even though the students can’t come to campus, the teachers are still very committed to their success.”