EAST STROUDSBURG — Living through a global pandemic is also living through history, and the East Stroudsburg Area School District wants to make sure the community documents it while it’s happening.
Inspired by the Monroe County Historical Association’s collection effort, the school district is asking students, parents, teachers and student teachers to submit artifacts documenting their time at home.
The submissions could directly relate to students’ studies, or they might document time spent with their families, or socially distant activities with friends like a drive-by birthday celebration.
This generation of students will always have this experience in common, said Heather Piperato, director of secondary education. It’ll be a “Remember when?” moment for them.
Even before the school district linked with the historical association effort, the staff was compiling weekly photo albums of the learn-from-home experience.
“As happy as the children are in the pictures, you can just see in their eyes, they miss school,” said Tabitha Bradley, director of elementary education.
It’s easier for some students than others, Piperato noted. Some might be making fun TikTok videos with their friends, or driving past each others’ houses, but others might contribute “artifacts that show the other side, a lonely side or a struggling side.”
When students return to school, those submissions might be a starting point for conversations about classmates having different experiences.
For Michael Healey, community outreach liaison, the isolation has also been a time to feel connected with colleagues and students. He’s found himself sharing more family photos than before online, for example.
There’s a “tightrope with technology,” he said, and the COVID-19 era is highlighting its benefits. It’s inspiring and reinvigorating, he said, “to see this reconnection of our youth with the educational system in a completely different light.”
It’s not a secret that different students learn differently, but this has reinforced that knowledge.
“I’m hoping that what this showed us, forced us to see, is that there are some other ways to educate, and we can incorporate them in the classroom, if the classroom even looks like it used to when we go back,” Piperato said.
The project is tied to the historical association’s collection effort, but the district also wants to keep updating its own collection and determine a way to share it online with the community. That will need to be “visually appealing,” of course, and likely will involve the help of tech-savvy students, said Angelica Lowe, an ESL specialist at J.M. Hill Elementary.
Lowe was brought onto the project team because she can communicate this to students who might miss the announcement otherwise, “and their experiences are valued too,” she said.
“We want to cast a wide net, because we are a diverse and large school district,” Healey said.
For more information and to submit artifacts, visit https://www.esasd.net/domain/1577.