As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded and the school closure was extended, Ira Jones Middle School English and Language Arts teacher Kimberly Wayne asked herself “What can I do?”
She looked for a way to keep her students connected, engaged and create a space for them to express their feelings, she said.
With that in mind, Wayne created a “Real Heroes” writing activity for students to work on during District 202’s spring break the week of March 30, 2020.
The activity challenged students to write a letter of gratitude to those serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic such as medical professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, public service workers.
“I’ve always expressed with my students, that writing is a tool that can bring comfort during difficult times,” Wayne said.
Students started writing letters almost immediately, despite being on spring break, she added. Seeing a quick response from her students, she extended the activity to the rest of the staff at Ira Jones. “I wanted to bring this joy to others, because we all need a drop of joy and a ray of light,” she said.
After sharing the activity with her colleagues, many jumped on board to participate.
“This pandemic has captivated everyone, and students are paying attention,” Wayne said.
“We’re all connected and have compassion for each other,” she said. “The need to contribute is significant and this activity provides a way for kids to contribute in a small, but meaningful way.”