A few weeks ago, Rachel Blankenship took to Twitter to brag on her mom, Vickie, a little bit. “My mom is a principal in West Virginia who goes the extra mile for her school. She just finished writing a letter to each of her students and is mailing them today. Nearly 300 letters!” she tweeted.
It was just one way that Vickie Workman, principal at Point Pleasant Primary School in Mason County, could connect with her students and let them know she cares.
“As their principal, I want them to know that they are special to me and when they are feeling lonely and confused, they are being thought of from a trusted friend,” Workman said. “I want them to know that although they may not be seeing me every day, they are still important to me.”
Workman wrote a personalized letter to each student — 286 of them, to be exact — encouraging them to continue learning, reading and to remind them that she misses seeing their faces around the hallways. She said she feels it’s important during this time to keep that connection with students strong.
“Although this pandemic has been an unsettling time for adults, small children also have anxious feelings with little past experiences to draw strength,” she added. “We have been able to engage students and sustain the bond that was formed before the pandemic. I have witnessed first-hand the resilience of our students, the power of our parents, the bond of our families and awesomeness of our teachers.”
And you could say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in Workman’s family. Vickie’s daughter, Rachel Blankenship — whose tweet about her mother garnered more than 100 likes — is a first-grade teacher at Suncrest Elementary in Monongalia County.
Blankenship has been reaching out to her own students in various ways — some traditional, some more modern. She’s mailed cards with encouraging notes and stickers, followed up with phone calls to students and uses the FlipGrid app to spark video discussions with the class.
Through all of this, Blankenship said she doesn’t want her students to feel like she’s forgotten about them.
“During this time of isolation, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in the world,” Blankenship said. “I don’t want my students to feel that way. I want them to know I will always be there for them and help them however I can.”
Back at Point Pleasant Primary School, Workman says her teachers and staff have also stepped up to the challenges of remote learning, going above and beyond to engage with students. Through video chatting, phone calls and personalized work packets, they’re making sure no child or family gets left behind.
“Our teachers have pioneered their way through uncharted waters while constantly looking for ways to more fully engage their families,” Workman said. “Overnight, our parents have become their child’s teacher with their classroom teacher serving as their guide, coach and confidant. From continuing to provide food, instruction and love to our students, there is always something positive in even the worst of situations; we only need to look.”