During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines. 

Teachers are some of the most important members of their communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. For the last few weeks, we’ve been honoring the hard work done by teachers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Glencoe teacher gets colleagues, students dancing on TikTok, raises $4,100 for groceries for people impacted by coronavirus by Nick Daschel. Looking for a way to engage with his students and raise money for his community in Glencoe, Oregon, Glencoe High School math teacher Tom Stephens turned to TikTok, an app where users can upload short videos. Creating the account TikTok4Tide, Stephens, two dozen teachers, and close to 100 students raise $4,100 for members of the community that are in need. Reporting for Oregon Live, Daschel writes, “Stephens says he often begins class discussions with students about financial matters, and knows that many are currently struggling.” Speaking with his students about how much they are struggling spurred the idea to help out. Stephens commented, “The community has rallied around this pretty well.”

Vidor teacher making face shields to aid area healthcare workers by Dawn Burleigh. Across the country, teachers have stepped up to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders. In Vidor, Texas, freshman science and robotics teacher, Amanda Balla joined the effort. With shortages of PPE at several hospitals in her region, Balla created face shields using a 3D printer and transparency film, typically used for producing images on overhead projectors. Balla commented on her work, “We just want to help as many people as we can. Those healthcare workers on the front lines are doing a great job and we just want to support them the best way that we can. We can do great things for healthcare workers if people with 3D printers did a few masks each day.”

Schools stay connected with students during COVID-19 closures by Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Reporting for WyoFile in March, Thuermer Jr. wrote about how school districts across the state of Wyoming have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers, who are typically responsible for hundreds of children per day, are now adjusting to staying digitally connected with their students. Kim Hunt, a Wilson Elementary physical education teacher, gives a “Mrs. Hunt’s Action Update” each day on her Facebook page. She said, “I do want to get the word out [that] there are multiple places to go for kids’ activities. Parents don’t have to create plans every day.”

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!