Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers everywhere have been challenged to find new, innovative ways to reach their students.
From coming up with creative “handshakes” to bringing graduation to them, we thought we’d seen it all… until now! Jerilee Melo of Valencia, California, found a truly unique way to make sure no kids slip through the cracks on her watch.
With in-person classes canceled, Jerilee found herself “kind of stuck.” She’d been teaching preschool for four years, but with nowhere to hold lessons, she wondered if she should wait it out or find a new career.
A few months into lockdown, she was shopping online when the answer came to her in the form of a 1970s school bus.
“I found a bus because, like many people, we were emotional shopping,” Jerilee said. “I’m going to emotionally shop, and I came up with a bus.”
On impulse, she purchased the school bus from Facebook Marketplace and started renovations. By August, she had her first group attending classes there. Many of these kids were former students of hers who were eager to learn after months at home.
Safety is always a big concern, so Jerilee makes sure there are only five students in her bus at a time, and everyone wears a mask. She never drives the bus when class is in session; it simply serves as a mobile classroom that travels wherever her students need her most.
Jerilee also turns the bus into an opportunity to spend more of their classroom time outdoors.
“It gives me the flexibility to bring a classroom environment seriously anywhere, because you can truly learn from everyone in your community,” the teacher explained. “Our community has something amazing to share.”
She hopes other teachers will hear her story and find ways to reach their students just as she did. “Being in a classroom isn’t all you need to be an educator,” she said. “I think teachers need to expand and go beyond the classroom, because what they have is valuable.”
What a creative way to solve a tricky problem! Why didn’t we think of this? We hope more teachers follow Jerilee’s lead. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way!
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