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.  

Tech-savvy students, teachers harness expertise to make medical supplies for local healthcare heroes by Julia Demma. Students and teachers from across the state of Michigan have come together to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. In La Porte, Michigan, STEM teacher Bethany Smith and computer science teacher and media specialist Miles Fettinger produced 3D-printed face shields and 600 replacement eye shields. “I come in twice a day to get to work on production, and I’m always happy to help,” said Fettinger. “I would hate for somebody in the healthcare industry in La Porte to suffer if we had the ability to stop or slow the spread, and if this makes the difference, I am all for it.” 

HISD teacher raises money with custom stationery to feed students during coronavirus pandemic by Stephanie Whitfield. Teachers have always had to be innovative. In Houston, TX, when schools started to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, elementary school teacher Catherine Frank jumped into action. Frank launched a company called CE Paperie, which sells stationery that she designs. 100 percent of the proceeds from Frank’s stationary sales went to Feeding Texas, an organization that works with local food banks to feed those in need, Whitfield reports for KHOU. “When the schools started to close, I started thinking about all the students who rely on their schools to provide breakfast and lunch every day,” Frank said. “I started selling and ended the sale 48 hours later. We were able to donate 3,500 meals.” 

Southeast Kansas teacher runs the “Frontenac Marathon” to connect with her students by Angela Deines. Caroline Capehart, an avid runner, a three-time participant in the Boston Marathon, and a fifth-grade teacher in Frontenac, mapped out a 26.2 mile run past all of her 22 students. After the Boston Marathon was canceled this year, Capehart, a member of the Frontenac Teachers Association, wanted to find a way to see her students in-person after teaching virtually as the coronavirus pandemic closed schools throughout the state. Chelsea Glynn, interim president of the Frontenac Teachers Association, commented, “While she originally started out to do this for herself as a way to ease the sting of not running in Boston and as a way to connect with her students, she inadvertently lifted the spirits of an entire town.” 

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