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. 

Michigan teachers raise classroom pets at home amid the pandemic by the Associated Press. What happens to classroom pets during a pandemic? In Michigan, teachers stepped up to ensure that all pets, including frogs, gerbils, and fish, are cared for as students moved to remote learning. Although some teachers have put a call out to students to volunteer to take the classroom pets home, some have taken on the responsibility themselves. Scott Kefgen, a teacher at Harlan Elementary School, took all of his classroom pets home. Kefgen commented, “The geckos are in the middle of my kitchen floor, my dining room table has the gerbil, and the frogs and the turtles are in this gigantic tank.”

Food delivery helps families in west Madison by Rebecca Ribley. School personnel and volunteers provided some relief for families across Madison, Wisconsin this past summer. Families of students that are headed to Madison West High School had the option of a food delivery service that includes a box of essentials such as vegetables, eggs, and snacks. Over 400 families have received deliveries since the program began. Thoreau Elementary School Social Worker Laura Glaub, an organizer of the program, commented, “There are so many barriers when a family has to go to a food pantry. Transportation, stigma, access and so how could we get the food that families were used to in this school building to their doors.”

Drumming in music class at Pope School by Carrie Stambaugh. Teachers and school personnel have had to find ways to be innovative during the pandemic, and a music teacher at Pope Elementary School in Mississippi is no exception. Music teacher and junior high choir director Robbie Cook came up with a creative way to keep students safe and socially distanced while playing music. Using 5-gallon plastic buckets donated by Lowe’s, she has taught her students how to drum and create rhythm. Cook, a 20-year veteran teacher and recently named South Panola School District Teacher of the Year for the Pope Campus, commented, “I believe music is an important way of creating a well-rounded education.“I think music is an area where some children may excel in where they struggle in reading and math. It helps build their confidence.”

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