COVID-19 has impacted our country in many different ways. Our entire way of life has changed. No longer can people gather in large groups. Events have been canceled or postponed. Professions that were once in an office are now in a kitchen or den. Essential employees are working more hours now than ever before. Friday night dates have gone from dinner and a movie to evening walks through the park. Girls nights out are now zoom calls with a deck of cards and a glass of wine. Of all the aspects of our lives that have changed and affected by COVID-19, children’s education has changed the most.
Children are used to sitting in classrooms surrounded by their friends and favorite teachers. Now, they are homeschooled, attend school via the internet, or practice social distancing in the classrooms and school hallways.
Students are used to showing their appreciation to their teachers with hugs, smiles, and small gifts. COVID-19’s social distancing mandate has prevented hugs. And, masks hide smiles. With new protective protocols in place, showing your teachers appreciation is a little different. Here are some ways to show our very own Highland County Public School employees some love while maintaining social distance.
Extend a Simple Thank You
I asked a few of the staff members at Highland County Public Schools what they would appreciate the most from a student. Almost unanimously, they responded, “A simple thank you.” You can do this by making a card. That way a student can use his or her own personal creativity for a project that is close to their heart. The card can be hand-delivered or mailed to the school for the teacher, aid, bus driver, or staff member of your choice. Just make sure to practice social distancing if the student delivers the card in person. If your child isn’t interested in arts and crafts, that’s okay! Families can work together to compose an email to be sent to a staff member’s school email.
Create a Care Package
One thing that will always brighten a teacher’s day is finding a care package at their classroom door. During COVID-19, several items are essential to have in stock. Items like hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, tissues, and paper masks can be purchased locally. Placing items in a basket or decorated plastic container with a Thank You card can bring joy to anyone’s day – especially a teacher’s. When delivering the packages either leave them at your teacher’s door with a note or place the package on their desk to maintain a safe six-foot distance.
A gift of flowers can brighten the classroom by adding a pop of color and fresh aroma. Meadowdale Blooms offers an array of floral creations. Each arrangement is different and always has a seasonal pop. Not only is the business located in Highland County, but owner Erica Stephenson does her best to incorporate local plants and elements into her floral artistry. It adds a special touch knowing the ingredients come from our lovely county. (Erica also offers hand-crafted, stained glass creations, too!)
Give a Gift Basket
Putting together a local gift basket is a great way to support local businesses and put a smile on your teacher’s face. Maple products from Bruce’s Syrup & Candies, Mill Gap Farms, or other area sugar camps provide a sweet treat for teachers. Relaxing lavender products from BlackThorn Lavender, can be incorporated as well. For other local products or gift ideas, you can explore the Business Directory on the Highland County Chamber of Commerce website.
Present a Gift Certificate
A gift certificate to a local business makes a wonderful gift, and Heart and Soul Massage has gift certificates available year-round. Nicole Frye offers a wide variety of spa services including therapeutic, deep tissue, and hot stone massage. (See all Heart & Soul’s services and rates on their website.) What better way to start a Monday than to find out there is a promise of a massage waiting by your classroom door!
Show Care with a Cupcake
I’ve mentioned several food items in this list already, but it’s common knowledge that the way to someone’s heart is usually through their stomach. Whether it’s cupcakes, a cake, a pie, or a plate of cookies, choose to make a decadent dessert yourself or purchase an option from a local business. Just place the goodie on your teacher’s desk, then step back to allow for social distancing, and watch their face light up!
Of course, your appreciation doesn’t have to stop at the end of this list. Your school staff is working hard to keep everyone protected while also fulfilling their duties. It would mean so much to them just to hear a simple, “Thank you for your hard work.”
To all the Highland County School staff reading this post, thank you for making changes in the classroom and putting your best out there during this pandemic to enrich the minds of your students, our county youth, and our world’s future.
About the Author
Like most youth who grew up in Highland County, Rebecca Landrum attended Highland County Public Schools where she was active in athletics including volleyball, basketball, softball, and track and field. After graduating, she drove the mountains to attend classes at Blue Ridge Community College while still living at her family home - Glenwood - in Meadowdale. When she completed her Veterinary Technician certification at Blue Ridge, she moved to Staunton, Virginia, for her career, and then made a big move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also like most Highland County youth, after moving away, she realized where her heart was truly happy - in Highland County. Rebecca is now home in Highland, writes and assists with the HighlandCountyVA Blog, and is the Lead Veterinary Technician at CedarCrest Animal Clinic in Fishersville, Virginia.