By Pete Zamplas
Hendersonville – Marcie Molton Burlett is among local teachers who are making memorable bonding with students nearing summer vacation.
Marcie earned extra credit by providing goody bags adorned with canine cartoon star Scooby-Doo, to each of her 22 fourth-grade Upward Elementary students. She did so last Friday. This Friday is the final day of school.
That finished two and a half months of remote, computerized “virtual” learning. Students used Google Classroom and Chrome notebooks and staying in contact with their teachers. School facilities have been closed since mid-March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Upward teachers put congratulatory signs in yards of their students and presented some of the youths with academic and attendance awards.
Marcie opted for special treats. “I wanted to deliver some goodies to their homes,” she said. “I miss them!” She was met with plenty of smiles.
Some parents or guardians of Upward students on Marcie’s delivery route spoke with The Tribune Saturday, praising her as an exuberant, inspirational teacher.
“Energy, generosity, love and caring for the kids” stand out most to MeLani Campos. She sees “balance of structure and love.” Her son Izaiah Campos was in Marcie’s latest class.
Principal Jason Joyce said, “Mrs. Burlett has been an inspiration to all of us in education, during our Learn From Home teaching model. She has provided excitement through engaging activities and assignments, as well as a sense of normalcy for her students. She has truly given the gift of hope to so many, during such a difficult time.”
Marcie Burlett has taught mostly third grade in Upward for 18 years, after 14 years as an assistant. She was Upward’s teacher of the year in 2006-07. She is an alumnus of Hendersonville High School (’78) and Mars Hill. She was a Henderson County Education Foundation board member.
She drove her Ford Explorer to most students’ homes. Some families met her at the school, to get gift bags Friday. It took her most of the day to distribute gifts.
Snacks in bags were for students to munch on while watching a film “together virtually” that night. “We were looking so forward to having a snack party (end of year), and watching a movie.”
About a dozen of her 22 students watched episodes of dynamic animated film Avatar, on live streaming. Marcie set it up on Google Meet Friday evening. A fun bonus was students seeing each others’ faces in boxes on-screen and greeting school friends, ahead of the film. Marcie will stream Avatar this week, for her other students to watch it.
The local Walmart donated 22 gift bags with a theme of “Scoob!,” the new animated film starring Scooby-Doo the mischievous but heroic Great Dane. Each family received a bag, and a dozen or more items inside. Contents varied.
Turner and Debbie Rouse and their friends provided M&Ms, Skittles, cookies and Doritos chips. Walmart donated Coca Cola Energy, sunscreen, mouth wash, and elastic knee braces.
Fascinating toys from Burlett Painting Inc. were malleable Slime that kids shape into objects, an invisible ink pen and squeezable stress ball.
Student chats with Marcie included about topics they enjoy most studying at home, and what the miss most about the in-person classroom. “They miss socialization with their friends,” she noted. “But they like home learning, because they can finish it quicker.”
The recent remote learning may be relied upon in part, such as if the school system opts to have students go half a day so schools are at half-capacity as a health precaution.
Several parents who spoke with The Tribune in recent weeks said they and their children enjoy home instruction. Izaiah Campos likes practical applications. He enjoys figuring change from a cash register for a purchase, working with fractions, and measuring ingredients to help his mother bake.
He got from Marcie medallions for honor roll and for perfect attendance, and a certificate. His mother MeLani likes how computer notebooks enable students to take breaks from studies to briefly socialize with each other, or play video games.
Ayden Jackson studied five hours daily and will get a tutor, said his grandparents Dean and Mary Alice Jackson who often care for him. “Awesome” is how Mrs. Jackson described Marcie and her bringing goodies.
Ayden Jackson enjoys show and tell. He once showed his rock collection. Educational show ‘n tell on Fridays is a classroom routine Marcie continued online, to finish 2019-20. She will keep it going this summer for her ‘19-20 fourth graders.
“The kids love doing it,” she said. “It helps them stay connected with each other.” She encouraged them to share items such as from a past vacation that “other kids would write about.”
Local schools are staging celebratory auto processions. Some such as Flat Rock Middle and Marlow Elementary had auto parades of teachers, through students’ neighborhoods. Upward on Wednesday had students in cars parading by teachers grouped (but spaced apart within the group) by the grade they teach, and administrators.
Etowah Elementary held “drive-through graduation” for those finishing fifth grade, on Monday. The local public high schools’ drive-up diploma pickup is on their campuses, 4 – 6 pm Friday, June 5.