Story by Caroline Culver/ Contributing Writer
The sun shines down brightly, and the wind whips through a parking lot filled with only four cars. Soon, there will be more.
It’s April 21, a Tuesday, and four pre-K teachers and assistants gather in the front parking lot of their Ashland City, Tennessee elementary school. East Cheatham Elementary is mostly empty until 11 a.m. when pre-K students and their families start to arrive in cars to pick up supplies provided by the teachers.
One pre-K assistant’s vehicle, a black Jeep, sports messages written in car paint that read “Mrs. Deona Loves U!” and “Pre-K Loves U!” Each teacher is wearing homemade masks and latex gloves, a reminder as to why supplies are needed.
Due to the recent closure of schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, students must now do their schoolwork at home and teachers are now forced to teach remotely from their homes. The coronavirus pandemic has affected the everyday normalcy for both students and teachers alike.
One pre-K teacher, Gwen Dillahay, 58, says she and her fellow teachers have had to learn to use new methods of teaching remotely. “We’ve been posting academic videos and stories on our Facebook,” says Dillahay. She also says her pre-K team has utilized new apps to post lessons and videos from, like Flipgrid. Dillahay says she remains in contact with her students by making personal phone calls to each of them.
The abrupt closure of school means many students had to leave personal items behind in the classroom. The teachers were encouraged to deliver and handout both necessary supplies and personal belongings to their students as well as see them in person one last time.
Social distancing practices are in place while teachers deliver the goodie bags to cars lining up in the parking lot. Even with masks covering their faces, each teacher is smiling and excitedly calling out to their students. The bags contain a variety of items such as Scholastic magazines, a personal letter written by the teacher, snacks, drinks, a school journal, and craft supplies like paper, pencils, glue, crayons, and Wikki Stix.
One pre-K assistant June Young, 28, explains what students have done with their journals throughout the school year. “They’ve written their name in there and drew pictures in there,” says Young.
This week, the team of pre-K teachers and assistants solidified plans to meet together in the school’s parking lot with the rest of the teachers at school. They’ve decided to hand out yearbooks and report cards on Wednesday, May 20.
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