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The unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis has put educators around the state in challenging and unfamiliar positions. From helping ensure that nutrition-vulnerable students are getting food to making quick adjustments to online and alternative teaching methods, IEA members and local associations have answered the call. In a rapidly changing world, educators are finding new and creative ways to interact with students and connect with their communities.
The Moscow Education Association is one example of those stepping up to help their students, community, and profession during these difficult times. Like educators throughout the state, MEA members’ first thought was the health and well-being of their students, so they worked to ensure the school district had a plan for the distribution of food to students who rely on the meals they typically receive at school. Then they went to work on the academic side, using platforms like ClassDojo and SchoolTube to interact with students and provide them with the help and resources they need to continue learning. While online instruction is not a substitute for the classroom experience, it helps fill the gap until school buildings can reopen.
Those are significant steps in responding to an unprecedented public health crisis, but MEA has taken it to another level. “Our schools are so intertwined with our community, that we felt it was important to do whatever we can to help and inform our neighbors,” says MEA Co-President Lacey Watkins.
MEA Records Radio Spots, Organizes Blood Drive
The local association brainstormed about ways to connect with and give back to the community. One idea that took flight was a collaboration with the local radio stations at Inland Northwest Broadcasting. Watkins approached the cluster’s Operations Manager, Steve Shannon, and they landed on the idea of having MEA members record thirty second Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that could encourage students to stay engaged with their learning. Recording radio spots in an era of social distancing isn’t the easiest thing in the world, in case you are wondering, but with Shannon’s help they were able to get it done.
MEA members recorded PSAs on several sub-topics under the overarching theme of continuing to learn even though students are not physically in their classrooms.
- Watkins recorded one on finding ways to expand your vocabulary.
- MEA member and librarian Britt Heisel recorded a PSA on keeping up with reading.
- MEA member and counselor Meghan Raney’s PSA was about the need to keep exercising even while honoring “stay-at-home” directives.
- MEA member and middle school teacher Paige Mangini talked about the importance of kindness and empathy during these uncertain times.
The PSAs are now airing on four of Inland Northwest’s stations in Moscow.
“It’s a perfect partnership for us as we focus on remaining a live and local radio station during the crisis,” says Shannon. “It fosters goodwill in the community and fits nicely into our connection with kids and young families.”
MEA members have also organized a blood drive—a critical step with hospitals and the American Red Cross reporting that donations are down and the need is on the rise. “We thought it was a great way to give back to our community in an area of vital need,” says Watkins. “Letting people know that it is safe to give blood and giving them an easy, no-stress way to do it was an important component of our outreach.” After the planning stage, the blood drive is now getting underway in the college town of Moscow.
“As a group, we felt compelled to use our position as respected educators to connect with our community,” Watkins says of the MEA’s activities during the public health crisis. “Our members are so dedicated to their students and to doing what we can to help people in ways large and small.”