BY JENNY TOTTEN, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR, THE HUB
West Virginia has always been a state full of individuals leading from within, and from the ground up. The current challenges facing our state are being met with creative and community-led solutions, especially from the individuals and groups that are working to support the youngest West Virginians in our communities.
WVU Extension and Snap-Ed are working to get hands-on kits into students’ hands for at-home experiential learning. With March’s food of the month being microgreens, and in-person meetings and schools canceled, one WVU Extension office, in particular, got to work to find a way to still provide high-quality programming to its students. Tracey Valach, a health educator for Randolph and Pocahontas Counties, describes the microgreen kits as everything a child would need to try growing their own microgreens- including soil and an observation journal!
Additionally, their office is also distributing STEM kits, which similarly include everything that the family would need to conduct a small science or engineering challenge, such as a pom-pom catapult design challenge. The kits are being distributed through food distribution channels in select counties.
McDowell County Schools has been working around the clock to reach its students in a very remote, technology strapped part of the state. Cafeteria, bus drivers, and support staff are being leant a hand from teachers as well as central staff and board members to assemble and deliver meals throughout the county, ensuring that those who utilize the school to meet basic needs are still being nourished.
Teachers are reaching their students in every way possible; from fun Tik Tok video contests to take home packets for those with little to no internet access, the learning continues. Additionally, educators are keeping structured office hours and responding to question requests over the phone, on Facebook, and through text message and email. To keep spirits up, Welch Elementary School is conducting its own virtual Spirit Week, where students can dress up in their pajamas, as their favorite superhero, or wear their favorite team’s jersey depending on what day it is and send the picture to a member of the staff, who then posts it on the school page for all to see.
This is working to build a sense of community so that students feel connected and supported during this stressful time for all West Virginians.