Editor’s note: This is an installment in an ongoing series called Campus Corner, in which April Petronella of the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Education Committee writes about topics important to area schools, students and their families.
Returning to school for a new academic year is stressful under normal circumstances. Returning to school amidst a global pandemic adds yet another layer of anxiety for parents, students, teachers and other school staff. Online instruction and on-campus instruction within strict COVID-19 prevention guidelines provide unique challenges that Heights-area campuses must face head-on.
For our local schools to succeed in continuing to provide stellar instruction to students in this new normal, a strong partnership with the community is essential.
Luckily, the Heights community is stepping up to this challenge with two initiatives designed to help local schools manage the upcoming school year.
Adopt a Teacher
Former classroom teacher, community volunteer and current University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work professor Cindy Reibenstein knows the challenges teachers face from decades of firsthand experience. After seeing successful “Adopt a Teacher” programs in other communities, Reibenstein decided to roll one out to connect the Heights community and local teachers.
The program will be managed through the Greater Heights Area Chamber of Commerce and its Education Committee, a body comprised of representatives from local schools as well as Heights-area business leaders.
Participating teachers are posted on the chamber of commerce website, www.heightschamber.org, under the Articles & News/Education tab. Reibenstein asks the community to peruse the teachers and their wish-lists and then select a teacher to “adopt.” Participants who adopt the teacher will then provide some or all of the items on the list to help the teacher in meeting the challenges of this school year. The teacher lists, per Reibenstein, “contain both tangible items like supplies and intangibles, such as teachers asking for cards, notes and even prayers.”
Participation in the program is open to all members of the community, including individuals and businesses or other organizations. Several local schools from elementary through high school are participating.
The challenges for schools will continue once students return to campus since new safety protocols require many changes throughout the school day. Among these is a change in policy regarding water fountain usage to curb the possibility of COVID-19 infection. Instead of using the water fountain directly, students will use disposable cups or reusable water bottles.
Reusable plastic water bottles are a low-cost and environmentally sound way to keep students safely hydrated throughout the school day, but many schools lack these water bottles to distribute to students. Through Operation Hydration, businesses can partner with schools to provide reusable water bottles to Heights-area campuses.
Local businesses are asked to consider donating these water bottles, which may be branded with the business’ logo, for distribution to local schools. Any quantity — from a few water bottles to 1,000 — are welcome. Schools are also accepting donations of disposable cups.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on where to drop off items for distribution to local schools if your business would like to participate.