Patricia Dovi and Kim Martin, two teachers in Florida, stated, "Our goal is to make our kids happy. The playfulness will help them cope."
Students across the United States are preparing to go back to school. This academic year, things will look a little different from what they are usually used to returning to in the fall. In addition to wearing masks and practicing safe hygiene protocols, students of all ages will be expected to social distance. For younger children, this can be a little scary. In order to make it less so, teachers Patricia Dovi and Kim Martin from the St. Barnabas Episcopal School in Florida decided to turn their pupils' socially-distanced desks into little Jeeps. They said they were inspired by another teacher in Texas who did the same, CNN reports.
Dovi and Martin's classrooms are adjoined. Therefore, their collaboration on the project "came naturally." Each desk was already equipped with a plastic shield to act as the front window of the vehicles, so the teachers just had to get a little creative with the rest of the body. Together, they built construction paper tires, headlights, and even license plates. Martin stated, "Our school gave us plexiglass tri-folds, which we felt would overwhelm our little ones. So we took the design and turned them into little Jeeps."
Using $200 of their own money to purchase materials and supplies (which the school later confirmed it would reimburse), the two teachers turned the simple single-student desks into sleek rides that any child would be excited to take a test drive in. "We had a little meet-the-teacher session and we gave them keys to their car and told them just like in a motor vehicle, you have to stay in your car at all times and wear a mask when you get out in case you come across hazardous conditions," the teacher shared. "So we're playing on this vehicle concept to turn social distancing fun and more kid-friendly."
I have always believed in creativity as our greatest asset in adversity.— Howard Liu, MD MBA (@DrHowardLiu) August 23, 2020
Two Florida teachers turned their students' desks into little Jeeps to make social distancing less scaryhttps://t.co/loZyJFko8t
Paul Garcia, the head of the school, told CNN that he was incredibly pleased to learn about Dovi and Martin's project to help students engage better in the classroom. "St. Barnabas Episcopal School is blessed to have such collaborative teachers and forward-thinking teachers," he stated. "I was truly pleased to hear when the idea to decorate the first graders' desks as Jeeps was presented to me. This is one example of many examples in which this team of teachers and all of our team search and find ways to make our students learning environment fun and engaging, especially, during this difficult time."
As children of all ages return to school this fall, they will not be able to engage in group projects, floor circles, or close play, which means learning will look very different for them this year. However, the teachers of St. Barnabas are ready for any challenge.
My co-worker’s room. She teaches first grade and didn’t want it to look scary with all the dividers. Isn’t this great? pic.twitter.com/ng3IPIflCo— Nan Lafferty (@NanLafferty) August 18, 2020
Martin explained, "All of us have some sort of anxiety about going back to school. It is going to look 100 percent different than it has looked in my 20 years of teaching. But our goal is [to make] our kids happy. The playfulness will help them cope."
Indeed, teachers across the country have truly stepped up to the plate given the current circumstances. While staying at home and conducting virtual classes would be the best way to learn during a global health crisis, this poses many challenges, especially for working parents who do not have any assistance with child care. Nonetheless, most schools are doing their best to ensure students are safe, happy, and engaged.
We've all been faced with some tough decisions this year, but know that at St. Barnabas Episcopal School, your student's safety is our top priority.— StBDeland (@SBESDeland) August 17, 2020
To review our full reopening plan, please visit https://t.co/ZI81pWSS6m#sbes #stbarnabas #deland #volusia pic.twitter.com/HA0Ajxc1zi