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 our communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. This week, we will be honoring the hard work done by teachers across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With a new $6,000 grant, New Orleans teacher will help STEM students experiment from home by Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur. With many students across Louisiana starting the school year at home via virtual learning, a science teacher from New Orleans went the extra mile to ensure his students could perform experiments from home. Samuel Loftus was awarded a grant from the Society for Science and the Public to bring STEM education directly to students’ homes. Tafur reports that Loftus is planning to use the grant money to establish a science club at his school and help students with their science fair projects. Loftus commented, “I’ve been lucky to connect with so many great people in the community. And that is what has really opened a lot of doors for my students.”

‘We have to do this”: Farmers Market steps up for school supply drive by Tom Savage. For years, the town of Dell Rapids, South Dakota relied on area churches to help students get the supplies they need for school. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing throughout the country, Jennifer Mason, a former Dell Rapids School District Teacher of the Year and the owner of  Dell Rapids Farmers Market decided to lend a hand to ensure students have necessary school supplies. Savage reports that with the help of her sister, in mid-August, they set up their farm stand, and if patrons donated school supplies they received a three-pound bag of produce for free. Their efforts gathered $750 in donations, dozens of backpacks, and countless supplies for students. Mason commented, “It was amazing. Just so cool. I just hope that it helps. I love Dell Rapids. This is where I grew up and I think this is where a lot of people love to be. We all just help, that’s what it is. That’s the way it has to be.”

Littleton teachers making intubation boxes to help Colorado health care workers by Michael Abeyta. In May, three Littleton Public School teachers came together to create intubation boxes for local hospitals. Placed over the heads of patients who are sick and in a hospital bed, these boxes are crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among hospital staff. Marc Finer, a Technology and Engineering teacher at Newton Middle School, was one of the three teachers responsible for the idea. Abeyta reports that the teachers purchased the material for the intubation boxes with money donated from the local community. Finer noted how appreciative hospital employees are when they received the donated intubation boxes. “You can see it in their eyes that they are very excited to get these and they are thankful.”

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