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.  

Teachers do make an impact by Matthew Burdette. In a piece from The Telegraph in Nashua, NH, editor-in-chief Burdette writes about the incredible sacrifices teachers make every day. “Teachers have the ability to inspire. They have the ability to mold young minds, and they have the power to change the course of countless lives,”  Burdette writes. As school districts across the nation moved to remote learning in the spring, teachers took up the challenge to continue to educate their students. “Teachers – along with medical professionals – are the true heroes in this outbreak. They provide an absolutely invaluable service that has such a positive impact on society.” 

Fenton teachers feed first responders by Hannah Ball. In Fenton, MI, teachers and administrators of Fenton Area Public Schools have raised over $6,200 to feed first responders in the community. Started by teachers Jill Smigielski and Maria McFarland, the fundraiser not only fed first responders but supported local businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I started thinking about the restaurants that are losing business and are closing,” said Smigielski. Ball writes that Smigielski got the idea from the Facebook group Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) Metro Detroit and wanted to do something similar in her community. Over 150 people have donated to the fundraiser as of May 19. “I think it’s pretty amazing how the Fenton schools community pulled together quickly to support frontline workers and restaurants during this time,” commented Smigielski. 

Osage teacher Brent Jennings finds quick way to make masks for healthcare workers by Shane Lantz. Teachers across the country have stepped up to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and health care workers. In Iowa, Osage High School shop teacher and wrestling coach Brent Jennings has made almost 100 face shields for health care workers. Not only did he create shields himself, but Jennings has posted videos on social media that teach others how to make face shields. “I just knew there was a shortage. As a teacher and a coach sitting at home without a ton to do, I was looking for ways to help. That’s probably one of the easiest ways I can help out,” said Jennings. 

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