On Monday morning, as we were starting another week by conducting health checks on the curb, the father of one of our virtual preschoolers arrived. “I’m here to pick up the submarine.” The request caught my attention, as it’s not a typical pickup of materials. Usually materials picked up for students still learning at home fit into a manila folder or at least a small bag. It’s the first submarine I know of that’s been made available for a student’s learning.
Before long, a medium-sized cardboard box painted yellow appeared from within the building. I knew the Preschool 3s had made a larger submarine out of cardboard boxes, and the one at the door was different from the bigger one. I decided to investigate. As it turned out, when the class made their original submarine, the student at home was quite involved in the process from a distance, even participating in naming the sub. Since they’d had so much fun with their classroom submarine in their simulated underground ocean environment, they decided to make an additional smaller one for their friend. When the father received it, he speculated there would be a lot of Anna and Elsa stickers on it!
It was heartwarming when I heard about the personalized submarine. At a time when we’re all feeling the fatigue of nearly a year of living with a pandemic, I was glad to witness this gesture of reaching out to a virtual student. In all transparency, managing the hybrid program of offering in-person and virtual learning simultaneously has been challenging at best. It takes considerable energy to keep this all going, so making a personal submarine for a friend at home seemed that much more special.
I do have to say, there are times when a virtual student certainly gives back to those of us learning in person. Here’s a poem written by Annika Smith, one of our 4th graders who has been a virtual student all year. It was written in response to a conversation about empathy:
I see you,
I feel you,
you feel me too,
we can share.
the sad times,
and the happy ones.
we can think about what scares us,
and find out that it is upright ridiculous,
you can always find me in the garage,
ready to ride my bike side by side with hope.
when we are done,
we can ride a boat,
and sail down the river of happiness.
It is quite possible that her boat sailing down the river of happiness is a submarine. We’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate…and dream.