In 2020, when truth proved stranger than fiction, two CTA members wrote books designed to help students cope with the strange new world, which includes sheltering in place, social distancing, mask wearing and online learning. These books can be used as a resource to help students cope with today’s challenges — or serve as “memory books” in the future, so students can recall how they bravely lived and learned during unprecedented times.
Mask or No Mask, One Thing Is True… I Am Your Teacher and I’m Here for You!
By Kristin Studt
Westside Union Teachers Association member Kristin Studt, a first grade teacher at Gregg Anderson Academy in Palmdale, wanted to let her s tudents know how much she cared about them. After the 2019-20 school year ended, she wrote a book that is beautifully illustrated by Noé Garcia, whose children attend the school.
The book depicts the heartbreak of saying goodbye last March (“I saw your sweet faces, held back a tear, because I felt in my heart things would be different for the rest of this year”) and then shows the amazing resilience that followed (“We all heard the news, quickly shifted gears, and figured out how to do distance learning for the rest of the year”). Playground closures, drive-by birthday parties and working from home are also highlighted.
“I wanted to let students know that we are going through strange times, and I will do my best to help them learn and be there for them.”
Studt and her book have been featured on KTLA television news. Holding back tears, she read the book to her new students this fall, and they loved it. The digital book is available at here.
Once Upon a Time There Was COVID-19
By Cara Nicoletti
Fruitvale Teachers Association member Cara Nicoletti, a fourth grade teacher at Quailwood Elementary School in Bakersfield, wrote and illustrated this book for her students — and for posterity.
“I wanted my students to know how much they meant to me,” says Nicoletti, who has taught for 21 years. “I wanted to give them something personal they could have for the rest of their lives. We went through things together that people have never experienced before. In a way, it really is like a fairy tale, so I had fun with the title and used Once Upon a Time.”
Her book, published this past summer, chronicles the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, from schools shutting down to kids feeling lonely and missing their friends to the stress of working at home. But it also shows the positive side of distance learning, describing fun activities such as sidewalk chalk-drawing contests, creating videos, and making homemade butter by shaking heavy cream in mason jars.
Her book shows another silver lining: families spending more quality time together doing things like baking, playing games and creating TikTok videos.
“I wanted to give them something personal they could have for the rest of their lives.”
Nicoletti and her book were featured on Bakersfield television stations. She gave each student a copy as a gift, and they loved it so much she decided to self-publish a paperback version. It is available on Amazon.