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Teachers in Aberdeen spread message of hope, encouragement to students

Posted at 8:12 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 17:50:21-04

ABERDEEN, Md. — Schools have been closed for weeks because of the coronavirus. Teachers are still teaching their students, but with limited interaction.

"It's been very strange. You know, you never thought as a teacher you could work from home," said Mary McAuliffe, a Special Education Teacher at George D. Lisby Elementary School. She said, "we're doing internet chat instead of face-to-face and that's really hard with elementary school students."

That's why many of the teachers started making challenges to have some sort of interaction with the students.

"We were just putting up challenges that weren't mandatory but were just fun. We did some that had to do with gym, some that had to do with reading and some that had to do with math. Just to give them an extra thing and then they would post videos or post pictures of what they were doing," said McAuliffe. For the first day of spring they had a writing challenge, where all the students had to write what their favorite thing was about spring. One of the other challenges was a dance challenge, where teachers and students posted their dance moves.

Not everyone on the staff wanted to participate in the dance challenge so they came up with another way to interact with the students, a video sharing a special message. The video shows staff members waving, smiling and holding up a heart with a message on it.

"It gets the kids to see the people who might not have been comfortable before doing it and we really did get the majority of the staff so the kids were able to see almost every single teacher," said McAuliffe.

The most common message, the message McAuliffe held up, was 'I miss you.' She said, "you miss the little thing of like giving a kid a high five in the hallway or walking in the cafeteria to someone smiling and waving. Things you didn't think about until now."

Peter Robertson, a Fourth Grade Teacher at George D. Lisby Elementary School, kicked off the video from his garden.

"I know its tough and I know they're out of the school elements but to still be able to grow at this time. That's what I want for everyone," said Robertson. He added, "we;re still there. We're still cheering you on and hopefully pushing you to grow."

There were a ton of other messages like 'we love you.' Robertson said, "it's simple and it's true. It's a powerful thing to remind our kiddos." There were a lot of messages of encouragement like 'stay active,' 'you got this,' 'keep smiling,' 'just breathe,' 'be creative' and 'read on.'

"I hope the main message of the video is a reminder that we're all there. We all want all of these things for the kiddos that we're not physically there to give them right now," said Robertson. He added, "I have phone calls with the kiddos but a lot of them are missing the faces of the faculty and staff at the school so it was a great opportunity to get everyone's faces back out there and tell the kids we miss them because we do and maybe offer a little bit of advice for them."

The video was played to the song Rise Up, which has special meaning at George D. Lisby because they have RISE expectations for their students. Rise stands for respect, integrity, service and excellence. These are values the faculty and staff want their students to focus on every day.

The teachers WMAR-2 News spoke with wanted to give a shout out to all their colleagues working hard right now during this tough time and to all the parents.

"I have to hand it to the parents. As a teacher, I create the lessons. It's the parents that are on the front lines of teaching and learning right now and that is a huge responsibility on top of everything else they have going on, to also wear the hat of a teacher," said Robertson. He added, "I'm just really proud of whats going on in some of these homes."