Like many teachers reaching out to students during the pandemic, Kaycee Von Essen sees great lessons in small actions.
The reading teacher at Washington Irving started an internal mail system called “Wee Deliver” before the COVID-19 outbreak. She decided to expand “Wee Deliver” to the community at large and ask students and staff members to write letters to healthcare workers.
“All around my neighborhood and in communities around the country people began thanking the first responders and essential workers on their lawns, through social media, etc.,” said Von Essen. “While it is our responsibility as teachers and families to be home and be safe, I wanted the students to share their voices about what exactly essential workers do and who they are.”
The idea has been so successful that students and staff members have written more than 200 letters to a variety of essential employees, grocery store workers, police, fire, military, garbage collectors, mail carriers and health care providers. These community members have all worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
Von Essen then collaborated with the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown. The staff is displaying the letters in their lobby. Von Essen hopes more communities will see the gesture and want to contribute.
She views the gesture as a way to spread hope in these uncertain times and quoted educator Randy Pausch who said, “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”