Ossining Teacher’s Book Offers Fun, Safe Ways to Say Hello in Pandemic

Park School Assistant Principal Melisa Stoller and book author and teacher Mary Catherine Hillman look on as teacher and translator Claudia Lavado reads the Spanish version during a Zoom event.

When children returned to school last month, six months had passed since they had seen their teachers and classmates in person. In normal times, they might have greeted one another with a hug or high-five. But they needed other options because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the summer, this weighed on Claremont School reading teacher Mary Catherine Hillman, who has a 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son and taught kindergarten for many years.

“I just started thinking about what school would look like for my own kids and for all the students that I usually see and greet at the door,” she said. “And I knew that it would be different and I was trying to come up with a way to tell a story that might help students know what it will be like when they go back to school.”

She came up with “But How Will I Say ‘Hello,’” a short book that suggests creative ways of greeting others without physical contact. Park School invited her to read the book – which is in English and Spanish – to incoming pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students on Zoom.

In the book, a young girl arrives at school only to find the chart with options for saying hello to her teacher at the door has some choices blocked out. But there are many ways to greet people safely, she learns, such as elbow and foot taps, salutes, winks, jazz hands, dance moves, and of course, waves.

Park School students and families enjoyed listening to teacher Mary Jean Hillman’s book, “But How Will I Say Hello.”

Ms. Hillman said her brother helped with the book design and production, and she exceeded her Kickstarter fundraising goal, thanks to the generosity of colleagues, family, friends and strangers. Park School dual language teacher and longtime colleague Claudia Lavado translated the book into Spanish.

“With a topic like this at this moment, you won’t find any material in Spanish and I felt like this book could spark conversations,” she said.

For more information about “But How Will I Say ‘Hello,’” visit www.haffandhawfbooks.com.

1 Comment

  1. This book came at the right time for my grandkids who question everything. Timely answers to what to expect when school opens to help calm the uncertainty in their lives right now . Change, a new school year, wearing masks, physical distancing are tough topics the author addresses with clear language and “happy” illustrations.

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