Marshalltown teachers get creative during break

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Marshalltown Community School District teachers Heather Stanley and Haley Upah deliver educational materials to students from Hoglan Elementary shortly after school was closed for another three weeks for the COVID-19 pandemic.

With students home for at least a month, it can be difficult for them to continue learning.

Even though school is not in session, Marshalltown teachers continue to work hard to care for students. Whether the efforts are digital or by delivering packages, the education of the Marshalltown Community School District students continue.

Haley Upah, third grade teacher at Hoglan Elementary, has been connecting with her students virtually and providing them with educational materials during the break.

She said it was tough to hear they would be out of school another month. 

“As a whole our Hoglan staff was truly heartbroken when we first got the news that our doors would be closed to our students for an additional four weeks,” Upah said.

Though an extended break may seem enjoyable, teachers are disappointed they will have to wait to see their students. Despite the negative situation, she and other educators are working hard to keep caring for their students.

“It was truly amazing to see our staff come together during these uncertain times and work on a solution as a team for our kids!” Upah said, “We spent days working on creating learning packets that we later opened up our buildings doors for parent pick-up or hand delivered to our students’ front doorsteps.” 

These packets include suggested daily schedules, activities in each subject and a list of helpful educational websites. Students were also given books and other learning materials such as markers, crayons and white boards to aid in their continued learning.

“It was important for us to ensure that each student had access to these learning packets so that they could at least have some normalcy in their daily lives again since they couldn’t come to school,” Upah said.

She said she has also stayed in contact with her students through ClassDojo, which allows teachers to use photos and video. Upah gives them a fun challenge each day, such as building the tallest tower out of things found around the house. She said this also allows students to interact with one another.

This is just one of the ways Marshalltown teachers are making the best of a difficult situation by coming up with creative solutions.

“As the future is a little unknown right now, one thing is for certain that we would like all of our students to know – they are always at the forefront of our hearts and minds as educators,” Upah said. “We hope that they are staying safe and healthy at home, and hope that we will all be learning together again soon!”

Heather Stanley, ELL teacher at Hoglan, has also been helping students continue to learn by collecting resources.

“When we found out school would not be in session for an extended period of time, our staff knew we needed to get resources in the hands of all our students,” she said. “All teachers were a part of this effort to team up and ensure materials were delivered to all students by the end of the day on Wednesday. I even got to venture out to our rural students and ensure those deliveries were made.”

Stanley said teachers are staying connected to students in many different ways and want them to know that they are thinking about them.

“I know teachers all over the district are reaching out to students in their own ways to let them know we are here for them,” she said. “I’ve got postcards going out in the mail to my students this week checking in with them and to let them know we miss them along with letting them know they can send me an e-mail, a story, a picture — anything to stay connected with me.” 

Marshalltown teachers regularly go beyond the duties of their jobs to care for and educate students. The break caused by COVID-19 has not changed this.


Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.


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