Teacher Appreciation Week: Stories of Dedication and Creativity

By Catherine Gewertz — May 05, 2020 2 min read
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Teachers have been working hard to stay connected with their students, and continue their instruction while schools are physically closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8), here are three of the many examples of teachers finding creative, fun, and generous ways to teach.

1. A Washington, D.C., science teacher turned his kitchen into a chemistry lab and is conjuring up some fizzy, smoky creations while his delighted students watch on Instagram or Facebook live. Jonte’ Lee, who teaches chemistry and physics at Calvin Coolidge High School, gave himself a crash course in social media so he could provide engaging chemistry-lab demonstrations for his students while they’re stuck at home.

Lee plastered his cabinets and dishwasher with posters that remind students of scientific principles they’ve learned, and he converted his chrome refrigerator into a dry-erase board.

One day recently, he stirred up some strawberry lemonade and dropped in some dry ice, instantly carbonating the beverage, to teach students about the three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). Then he drank it. (Yes, he did!)

“My students are going, ‘Wow, you’re not supposed to drink that! Are you okay? Mr. Lee! Mr. Lee!’” he recalled with a chuckle in a phone interview.

On another day, Lee mixed sugar and baking soda and set it on fire, which creates a snaky carbon “monster” that keeps growing and growing. The lesson was designed to illustrate the way a chemical reaction can create an entirely new substance. “Wow, that’s super cool!” one student chimed in on the live feed.

(Photo courtesy of Jonte’ Lee)

See also: It’s Teacher Appreciation Week: See How 3 Educators Are Helping Student During COVID-19

2. A Connecticut theater teacher continues her lessons in shadow-puppeteering, but from her front porch. Jane Martineau, the director of the theater program at The Williams School in New London, decided to offer lessons three times a week to her students—and the whole neighborhood—after her campus closed. Her performances have included “The Wizard of Oz on the Front Porch,” and “Cinderella on the Front Porch.”

(Image: Jane Martineau’s Facebook)

3. A high school math teacher in Georgia chalked congratulatory and encouraging messages on her students’ driveways.

Jennifer McLarty, a teacher at Walton High School, realized with a stab of sadness that she might not see her seniors again once schools were closed, because the district allowed students to finish the year with their grades through third quarter. Unwilling to let the year end without a goodbye, McLarty mapped a route to her students’ homes using addresses in her grade book, according to the Marrietta Daily Journal. It took her four hours to make the rounds, and she got help with the colorful chalkwork from her 5- and 8-year-old sons.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.