Every spring, Aspiring Educators of Michigan State (AEMS) complete a service project at an area elementary school, but this year – like everything – the experience had to be adapted to mesh with new COVID-19 realities.
“When the pandemic closed our (MSU) campus in March, we knew we had to change plans quickly,” said Brittany Perreault, AEMS president.
The group had planned to paint classrooms and revamp a garden space at Mt. Hope STEAM School in Lansing, but all buildings in the district have remained closed since March for remote learning.
Instead, gift baskets were assembled for the school’s teachers and delivered in November, filled with school supplies, personal protective equipment, classroom decorations and more. The AEMS executive board also held a socially distanced painting party to decorate an individual canvas for every teacher.
“We have an appreciation for the work teachers do,” said Chloe VanSickle, AEMS vice president. “We wanted to do something to give to the teachers who work so hard and constantly rise up to new challenges, like teaching virtually for the remainder of the school year.”
The aspiring educators say the annual service project helps them understand the importance of connecting with the community, developing relationships, and drawing on resources.
“These are eye opening and rewarding experiences that I will remember for the rest of my career,” Perreault said. The project was funded with grants and support from NEA and MEA.