The Helena Education Foundation is helping teachers overcome one of the challenges of educating students during the pandemic.
The foundation created a project to provide these so-called “Specialty Backpacks” (as seen in photo above) with physical education and music equipment.
"The inspiration came from a teacher named Jennifer Loomis. She is a PE teacher at Rossiter school. She was thinking about the struggles they had in March through May with the stay-at-home order, teaching PE online, in her case, was a specific problem,” says Lisa Cordingley, the Executive Director of the Helena Education Foundation. “Not all of the kids had the same equipment to use for their online lessons."
As it turns out, music teachers also had the same issue. It was difficult for them to teach their students online when not all the students had the same equipment nor could they share equipment due to COVID-19 guidelines.
"The Helena Education Foundation learned about the problem and we're here to try to be nimble when problems arise. We had a group of sponsors who stepped up and said 'we can help with this,'" says Cordingley.
The sponsors pitched in and bought enough equipment to fill 3,500 backpacks for students. Items in the bag include things like bean bags, jump ropes, rhythm sticks, and much more PE and music equipment. One music teacher says this will help teach students much easier.
"Having this equipment is going to make it easier for us to teach quality lessons because we'll know that all of our kids have the equipment they need to do the lesson,” says Sarah Dramstad, a music teacher at Rossiter Elementary. “Back in spring it was like, 'maybe you have what you need, maybe you don't.'"
These backpacks will be handed out to all K-5 students in the district the week of September 7th, 2020.