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Teacher turns desks with shields into tiny trucks to make first graders comfortable with social distancing

Kim Martin has been molding the minds of our youth for 17 years. In her nearly two decades in the classroom, she's never had a year quite like this.

DELAND, Fla. — How do you get kids excited to learn while remaining safe in the classroom amid a global pandemic?

It's a question on teachers' minds across the country, and the fact of the matter is, there just isn't an easy answer.

However, with a bit of creativity, one first grade teacher at St. Barnabas Episcopal School in DeLand may have a solution.

Kim Martin has been molding the minds of our youth for 17 years. In her nearly two decades in the classroom, she's never had a year quite like this. 

She'll not only be teaching her students but also making sure they remain socially distant. It's a tough task in a room full of first graders. That's why she turned her students' desks into trucks.

Plexiglass shields have been installed on her students' desks, adding an additional layer of protection from the coronavirus. Those shields could prove intimidating to a six-year-old. So, why not look at them differently?

Martin explained that the plexiglass now represents windows and a windshield, one that her students can look through as they "drive" into their future. Her goal? Turn a negative into a positive and give the kids something to be excited about when they enter the classroom.

To enhance the experience, she said she also plans to give each of her kids a keychain for their new ride.

Martin described how she'll use these "trucks" to teach her students to remain socially distant.

  • "Don't get in someone else's car."
  • "Don't touch another person's steering wheel."
  • "Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times."

And her students aren't the only ones learning valuable lessons. Martin acknowledged that this year will be a learning curve for everyone involved.

"I wouldn't be in education if I didn't want to be around kids," she said, stressing the importance for children to have contact time with their teachers and to interact with other kids.

Martin admitted that she's a little anxious for the school year to start, but that's not stopping her from continuing to do what she's passionate about. She also credited other teachers for their creativity and dedication.

Overall, she's optimistic.

"I just encourage everyone out there to be patient, be kind and be caring," she said. "I want to be able to give that to my kids."

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