Hero Teachers Turn First Grade Student Desks Into Little Jeeps for Safer Learning

Great, now they're going to spend their lunch money on accessories.

Used with permission from St. Barnabas Episcopal School

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They won't overlook the fact that packing themselves by the dozens into classrooms contradicts everything they've heard about social distancing—so more than a few will be anxious upon returning to school during a pandemic. Schools and teachers are addressing these apprehensions where possible, doing everything they can, but some are just doing it in much cooler ways than others. This is the case of several school teachers, who recently spaced out desks and fitted wraparound sneeze guards disguised as Jeeps to help the kids feel at ease with their new surroundings.

Pioneered by Texas kindergarten teacher Jennifer Pierson, the novel Jeep desk concept caught on in the hallways of St. Barnabas Episcopal School in Deland, Florida, as reported by CNN. To re-theme their neighboring classrooms around these Jeep-shaped desks, first-grade Teachers Patricia Dovi and Kim Martin committed a week of their own time and $200 toward redecorating their classrooms in time for the first day of school. The way they see it, going the extra mile can alchemize health precautions into opportunities to learn via off-roading-themed role-play.

"Our school gave us plexiglass tri-folds, which we felt would overwhelm our little ones. So we took the design and turned them into little Jeeps," said Martin in an interview with CNN. "We had a little meet-the-teacher session, and we gave them keys to their car, and told them, 'just like in a motor vehicle, you have to stay in your car at all times, and wear a mask when you get out in case you come across hazardous conditions.' So we're playing on this vehicle concept to turn social distancing fun and more kid-friendly."

As thanks for their ingenuity and hard work, school administrators reimbursed the teachers for what they spent to tart up their classrooms. And while no amount of lipstick on this pig of a public health situation can make everyone ready to start the semester, Dovi and Martin are—like most teachers across America—making the best of it.

"All of us have some sort of anxiety about going back to school. It's going to look 100 percent different than it's looked in my 20 years of teaching," Martin added. "But our goal is making our kids happy. The playfulness will help them cope."

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