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 and school personnel 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 and school personnel across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ky. principal drives school bus for students after transportation staff get COVID-19 by Valarie Honeycutt Spears. When two school bus drivers from Fancy Farm Elementary School in Kentucky were diagnosed with COVID-19, the school’s principal stepped in to lend a hand. Principal Janet Throgmorton, who is known for her kindness towards students, parents, and staff, earned her commercial driver’s license and increased her car insurance so she could help out. When Lexington Herald Leader reporter Spears reached out to Throgmorton for comment, a school secretary responded, “She’s gone to get on her bus.” 

Community supports drive-thru bone marrow screening for Summit 5-year old; 1,100 screened as 2,088 overall register by Anthony Lusardi. At Chatham High School in New Jersey, local residents, teachers, and the Chatham Education Association PRIDE Committee (CEA) rose to the occasion to help a little girl, Jackie Erb, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and needs to find a bone marrow donor. CEA initially hoped that there would be upwards of 500 people who would volunteer to see if they were a bone marrow donor match, but over 2,000 people signed up, and they had to order more tests. Katrina Keeshen, a teacher at Chatham Middle School, commented, “I’m overwhelmed by the response and the fact that it’s so well-organized. I’m praying we will have a match for Jackie or any other person in need. That’s the ultimate reward.”

Culpeper teachers make masks for essential workers by Sharon Fitzgerald. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last April, many teachers across the country volunteered to make masks for essential workers, their co-workers, and their communities. In Culpeper, Virginia, two teachers, Kim Cotter and Theresa Sicheri created an assembly line to make hundreds of masks. Sicheri commented on their work at the time, “Kim and I are trying to stay busy and focus on something we can do instead of the negative and the numbers. We hear cases and deaths every day. With stay at home orders and missing our students, it beats mourning the school year. That would turn into a lot of anxiety and gloom. This has given us an outlet to provide help to those that need the help and want to protect themselves.”

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