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Montana teacher connects with students in China during coronavirus crisis

Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 17:14:16-05

VAUGHN - Vaughn resident and online English instructor Megan Helmer has spent the past two years teaching online English classes to students in China, after eight years of teaching in a traditional classroom setting in Great Falls.

While she initially thought that an online classroom would cost her the close bond between her and her students, she soon found that distance is no match for emotional closeness.

"I have really close relationships with both the families and the students. I know the names of their pets and their siblings and what they had for breakfast that day. It’s just a really special thing that has grown over time,” Helmer said.

Through these one-on-one sessions, Helmer developed not only a bond with her students but also genuine concern for her students’ welfare. As the coronavirus epidemic has expanded through China, her concern has grown into fear.

“It’s scary. It’s scary to see how it’s impacting my students. It's scary to see how it’s impacting the families. I'm worried about my students and the families. I've been checking in with them,” Helmer said.

Since many forms of mail are restricted due to possible spread of coronavirus, she sends support in the form of photos, videos, and e-cards. “It’s a window into the outside world right now. Sending them videos and pictures of just our everyday lives is actually probably what can uplift them the most,” Helmer said.

If you’d like to send an encouraging photo, video, or e-card for the students, you can forward them to Megan at meganhelmer22@gmail.com and she will pass them along. Or if you’d like to send surgical masks, you can contact her via email about doing so.

To keep up with Helmer's journey with her students, you can follow her professional Instagram page: @montanaonlineteacher