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Episode 29: We’re in This Together: Teachers, Students and Love for Our Lunch Ladies

With challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis come stories of hope and helping one another in ways that warm the heart.

In this episode of the Supercast, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey finds out how one school is coming up with creative ways to connect with students, support them and make them smile. And, we learn how lunch ladies are managing to keep kids fed with a huge helping of kindness during school dismissal every day.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony "got to maintain social distancing." Once again, we're conducting this Supercast using Google meet. There are a lot of difficult situations folks are dealing with, and everyone is impacted in an individual and different way by the Corona virus and the shutdowns that have happened as a result. But there has been a lot of innovation, creativity, and kindness that has exhibited itself out in our schools. And I wanted to highlight some of the wonderful things that I know are happening in response to this terrible circumstance. And today I get to Google meet principal ABR SP at Columbia elementary school. And I also get to talk with Natalie ticks a lunch clerk at foothills elementary. Start by checking in with ABR, speak to see what's been happening at Columbia during the school dismissal. So Abe, tell us a little bit about yourself. You've been at Columbia for two years now.

Speaker 3:
Yeah, that's right. This was my second year.

Anthony Godfrey:
And did you teach elementary previous to that?

Speaker 3:
Yeah, I taught first grade for 12 years. It was awesome.

Anthony Godfrey:
You are somebody who has a great time at work. You love being at the elementary. Tell me what you love about elementary school.

Speaker 3:
Oh, elementary kids are the best they love being at school. And when you're the principal of an elementary school, you're like a superstar. You walk down the halls and everyone loves and greets you and as excited to see you still. So that's what I love most about being at the elementary.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yes, that is a wonderful thing about it. And I certainly miss being at a school for that very reason. I know how much you love being there and, and, and how engaged you are. What are some of the things that have been happening at your school to kind of make the most of, of the situation and continue to maintain those connections with kids and, and with the faculty?

Speaker 3:
Yeah. So nine teachers that have been awesome and that's actually our motto as a faculty is it'd be awesome for kids and they have been awesome. They've been doing an incredible job rolling out the online curriculum as well as just connecting with kids in different ways that they normally are used to. We had the big parade with the help of West Jordan police department. We went through the neighborhoods and we sure we kept their social distance and honked. And the kids all came out with their parents on their porches and on their balconies and waved. And it was, it was just an awesome experience. That's one, there's one example of ways that we've been trying to connect.

Anthony Godfrey:
I know you had at least one teacher who went out and visited homes and put some signs in front yards. Tell me about,

Speaker 3:
Yeah, we have two second grade teachers that visited each of their students' homes and we have a lot of apartments. And so they would, they put signs like great job on your online curriculum this week. You did awesome. And also thanks to their parents, like awesome job, getting your kids online. Cause sometimes that's a battle is to get the kids to get online and parents are a huge help in that. So they visited every single home. They didn't knock on the door or anything. They just left the sign on the, on the grass or on the front porch thing. Thank you for all you do.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's awesome. Did you hear some response from parents about that?

Speaker 3:
Oh yeah. It's been nothing. Parents actually were quite touched. They, there were parents that commented on our social media sites or sent me a direct email to saying, thank you, thank you for your teachers that just care so much about our kids that they're willing to do that. So,

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, I think that's amazing. You're also one of the sites that has been offering breakfast and lunch. And tell us about that. I know we've worked hard at social distancing as we offer that breakfast and lunch and that that's now a curbside service where we don't have anyone coming in the building. Is it kind of fun to just even get to see the kids from a distance for a short time?

Speaker 3:
Yeah, so we do, we're lucky enough to have a, both at our school. And then we have a trailer park that is a little, a little far away for the kids to actually walk here to our school. And so the district's been nice enough to provide a way for us to take meals to the trailer park. And there's a little park right in the middle of the trailer park. And we hand out the meals to the kids in the trailer park and we have about a hundred, maybe 120 kids that come that live in that trailer park that all come and get their food and they're thrilled to see us. They're always just, I think it just makes their day, obviously, as we all know, sitting around your house all day in a small space can be a little boring. And so when they have the chance to just come outside, at least wave to someone they know and smile and get their lunch it makes a huge difference in their day. So well also here at the school, we have about a hundred to 150 people that show up to get one here at school. And they're, they're thrilled to see us as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
And because of the federal government changing their guidelines, those lunches are free for any child 18 or under who shows up. And that's part of the nice thing is you can just give them a lunch. We don't have to enter in numbers. We don't have to track anything. Just every child gets a lunch and, and I've really liked that what I was impressed with when I came over to see lunch operations a week or so ago is how well you knew your community. You just said, you know, we have a neighborhood that you know, the park that would be, they're going to have difficulty coming over to the school. Is there any way we could get a bus over there? And I was just really impressed that you knew your community so well. And boy getting the bus over there was a great idea because it's, it's obviously helping a lot of kids in a lot of families. So thanks for being so in touch with everything.

Speaker 3:
Well, thank you. I, I just was worried about those kids. I, I, they were on my mind constantly.

Anthony Godfrey:
The other things that you've that you're aware of, that teachers are doing to manage teaching online to stay connected with kids. I know this is a, a huge, a huge burden on, on teachers to suddenly shift everything online and engage in a different way. And I know they just plain old miss the kids too on top of everything else, but

Speaker 3:
Right, right. Yeah. So it's been a huge cooperative effort, not just with our teachers, but with our support staff as well to get this up and running. And I'm sure this is the case that many schools across the district and state is, it was a huge undertaking to go all online. And it took a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation from our staff, but there's a lot of cool and interesting things. Our teachers are doing one of our, well, our fourth grade, they are Skyping with scientists throughout the community and throughout the nation. And so they're getting online with scientists and getting their kids online with scientists and having discussions with these, these experts in their field about not only the virus, but the curriculum that they're working on at the time. And so that's been really fun for the kids is to be able to talk and relate to scientists across the nation.

Anthony Godfrey:
So they're not just saying, well, how do we replicate what we've done in the classroom? They're saying, let's take it to the next level and how we can leverage this new circumstance to do some things we might not have done otherwise.

Speaker 3:
Right. Right. Yeah. And a lot of our lower grade teachers, something that they'd been doing is they've been reading stories to their kids online, through their Facebook pages or they're just sending them a video of them reading. So they still get that connection with their peers, with their teacher, and they still are able to hear their teacher read. And that's something that kids love. It that's the best moment of the day having taught first grade is just reading to your kids, reading to your students. And there's such a connection that happens when you're reading to them that it's it's something you don't want to lose. And I truly love doing that. So they've been trying to keep trying to continue that as they do it online. Now,

Anthony Godfrey:
It's exciting that they've found a way to keep that going. And you mentioned the assistance at a title one school in particular, there are more assistance than there may be in another school. And I've just been very impressed at how assistance dive in, find new ways to connect to kids and support teachers. And they just keep working and they're so dedicated, and this has been a big shift for them too. It's a lot of work for them as well. And yet they stay engaged and are big part of, of making this work,

Speaker 3:
Right? Yeah. We have our assistants doing a variety of things. We're trying to get them to do more from home, but some of the things they do or we have our PE assistant providing online PE curriculum and different activities they can do at home. And for their PE we have some of our assistants doing a lot of translating to Spanish for our teachers and even providing direct instruction over the internet to students that need additional help in English. And we have art are some of our assistants helping teach art and providing curriculum and art and just, there's just a ton that they do. And we couldn't have done this without our assistance.

Anthony Godfrey:
We have been, I've been super impressed with just how every employee in Jordan district has jumped in custodians, bus drivers, lunch workers have all sometimes had to do different jobs that they've never done before. We have a lot of bus workers that are helping with the distribution of lunches with custodial services. And everyone has just kind of pitched in to, to see what needed to be done. And it's impacted every employee. And everyone's really risen to the occasion.

Speaker 3:
Yeah, I've seen people are more than willing to do anything that, that our paraprofessionals are cleaning doorknobs and out, picking up garbage and just helping in any way. And then the bus drivers, I am impressed with that. They are best drivers. Not only hand out lunches here at the school, but they also go up to the trailer park and help there and they love it.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's been great talking with you. You're an amazing principal. You always make it fun. And I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with us and share some of the awesome things that are happening.

Speaker 3:
Oh, not a problem. Always going to share. Thanks Dr. Godfrey. Appreciate the time.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. It's been great. Talking with principal AP Osby from Columbia elementary school. Now we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll talk with lunch clerk from foothills elementary school, Natalie Texan, about the lunch and breakfast service that's been going on at Fu

Speaker 4:
I'm Steven Hall director of Jordan education foundation. And today's challenging and uncertain times is more important than ever to support one another here at Jordan education foundation, we invite you to join us in providing foods to children. So they are not hungry. Each $10 donation to the foundation will have to feed one student for a weekend with food and hygiene, entrenched books pantries at Jordan district schools depleting and in high demand. Every financial contribution made will help us to keep these pantries filled for students who would otherwise go without Jordan education foundation exists due to the generosity of people who care about kids and teachers. If you would like to donate to help kids from going hungry, visit Jordan education, foundation.org, or contact the foundation at (801) 567-8125. Thank you together. We can make a difference.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. We're back on the super cast with Natalie Texan, the lunch clerk at foothills elementary school, they have been doing a bang up job of continuing services. Even during the school dismissal, they're serving a lot of lunches and breakfasts. Natalie, give us an idea of just what's going on over there. Foothills.

Speaker 3:
Yeah, we, we are serving anywhere from two to 300 breakfasts and up to our highest has been 915 lunches. So about 1200 meals a day, 1200 meals sit down. It's been awesome.

Anthony Godfrey:
We are so appreciative our new of our nutrition services workers who are continuing this service know that families are really relying on it. And it's something for them to look forward to in the day, you know, a long days at home and, and they get to come by and drive by and say, hi.

Speaker 5:
Yeah, I had a family today at breakfast, bring cards for everyone, for everyone that's working and just said how much they appreciate it and it's the highlight of their day. And so it was really nice.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love hearing that. How many people do you have working there on any given day?

Speaker 5:
So we probably have about 13. We have a group of four bus drivers that helped me outside do the counting and serving and going back and forth and getting the milk. And then we have probably eight lunch ladies or some from other schools and they helped put together all the meals. And then we have other elementeries that contribute because there that we don't have, we cook the main meal, but the, all the like goodies brownies and cookies and stuff like that, other elementary that are baking and bringing them to us. So it's a big team project. It's really cool to see.

Anthony Godfrey:
So even with everything that's going on, we're still baking, right?

Speaker 5:
Oh yeah. Yeah. That's what I love about Jordan school district is, you know, everything is from scratch and so they still get the the baked goods and the kids look forward to that. And it's wonderful.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the other things that are being served right now?

Speaker 5:
So breakfast, we alternate one day it's cereal and they have juice in a fruit and extreme cheese. And then the next day will be like a muffin and similar things and then cereal. And then like a cocoa cherry bar, like a protein bar kind of. And then this week we've served hamburgers. That was a big day. That was our 917 sort of hot dogs today is burritos and tater tots, but they always have a cruder vegetable and they have a treat. And it's just a lot of fun. It's really fun when the cars pull up and you see just the appreciation on the parent's face. I have one mom that she gets tears in her eyes. Every time she pulls up and then the kids, you hear them open their sex or their styrofoam container, and they just start clapping and giggling. And it just is, it's a wonderful feeling to be part of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
I may or may not have a few tears myself. It's a lot of hard work to put 900 hamburgers in the hands of kids, all, all within an hour's timeframe. Yeah.

Speaker 5:
Yes. Yeah. So it definitely takes a team and we could not do it without everyone that's here helping the principals even come out. The principal either the principal or vice principal are always out there. Our dare officer is out there whenever he's here one day. I don't remember his name that he's a supervisor for all the best drivers he was here and he helped us. He was carrying milk back and forth supplying us with milk during the lunch rush. And it's just been such a incredible experience to see everyone just pulled together so that these families can be fed.

Anthony Godfrey:
It really is awesome. And like I said, I know families rely on it and it is wonderful to see nutrition workers from different schools working together and the bus drivers being a part of things as well. I've talked with several who have just loved being a part of what you're doing and it's very rewarding for them.

Speaker 5:
Yeah, I think so too. And it's been so fun getting to know other people, you know, and getting to know one of the lunch that you said came, I also do crossing garden and I'm one of her crossing guards. So that was kind of fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. Well, I think it just shows the important connection that there is between nutrition services workers and our bus drivers and the kids. I'm sure the kids are excited, not just for the lunch, but to see you guys and to have a little bit of normalcy where they get to see some friendly, familiar faces.

Speaker 5:
Absolutely. You know, the principal has been out there the last two days and the kids get so excited and they just, and also our other munch worker that comes for two hours and she, you know, is helping the lunch workers. They get so excited. And it's just a little bit of normalcy in this craziness. So yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
What other things have you had to do to adapt to the school dismissal? I, I, I'm so impressed that it's a hot meal and there's baking going on. And, you know, when you think grab and go, you don't think hamburgers, hot dogs and freshly baked cookies and brownies, but that's, that's just, that's quite a menu.

Speaker 5:
It is. I mean, they have salads in there and ranch dressing, you know, all those things, but we had you know, we, when we first started this a week ago, we were before that we had to serve maybe 30 lunches in 54, no 54 lunches and maybe 15 breakfast. So we weren't sure what to expect. And so our first day was a little bit chaotic and we had to make some shifts and adjustments because we needed to make sure everyone was safe, social distancing wise. And so we made up some signs and put up some hula-hoops if anyone walks into that, you know, that they're safe and how to pull in some more people. So that it's just been a learning curve. But after the first week we would increase increments of a hundred each day. So we started like 450 and then five, six, seven, eight, nine, but it just is working really well. Everyone just working together and we're finding what works and we're getting everyone through so

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, that's, that's word of mouth right there about how awesome you guys are and how great the meals are that you're serving. That's great. And I love your description of the setup, those hula hoops. I've seen that in a few different locations, the hula hoops where you stand in a Hulu that is spaced apart, and that you're doing all the service outside, is that correct?

Speaker 5:
Yes. So most of the people drive up, but like yesterday was a warm day, so we had more walk-ups. So we just, we have different people in charge of each area so that they can be quickly given their food and they're able to go. And

Anthony Godfrey:
I, I just really appreciate the hard work our nutrition services workers are doing and, and our bus drivers are doing to help support that. It's, it's really incredible.

Speaker 5:
I just appreciate the team, you know, I'm outside and they just bring these amazing meals out and I get to give them, and I get a, I get to have kind of the people perspective of interacting and they're in here just putting together meals quick as they can. And they come out hot. And it's just amazing how everyone works together.

Anthony Godfrey:
I don't know. I don't know how they do it. I really don't know how to do it. It's amazing. Yeah,

Speaker 5:
It is. It's absolutely amazing. And they just go with it and they just keep coming back and working together. So it's a great thing.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now I understand that on top of feeding, 900 kids every day for lunch and 300 for breakfast, you have eight kids of your own. How are things going at home for you?

Speaker 5:
It's good. I have four college students and they're back home and, and it's working out good. My elementary school son, it's harder. We have to do like 30 minute increments or even 10 minute increments and then take a break. So it's a lot of the day

Anthony Godfrey:
We have to do that with my fifth grader too. That's a breaks. Lots of points would really help.

Speaker 5:
It's just, I, I, I have gotten, just gained so much more respect. I had respect for the teachers anyway, and I get to see him every day, but just everything they do, they are amazing. And now to take on doing online schooling for everyone, I think just everyone has stepped up and it's just showed. There's just so much good in our community. And it's just wonderful to see.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, well said, there's a lot of good in our community. A lot of great people coming together. This brought out the best in some amazing people. And you're certainly one of those. So thanks for all your efforts, Natalie, it's such a thrill to talk with you. Thanks for everything you're doing. And please give my best to the rest of the crew.

Speaker 5:
I sure will. Thanks so much.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks again to AB Osby and Natalie Texan for talking with us on the super cast today, they are just a couple of examples of how employees have come together and pitched it to get through this circumstance everywhere you turn, people are taking on extra burdens, doing extra work and coming together to create the best experience possible for students. During this school dismissal, I'm immensely proud of the work that each employee in Jordan district is doing. And I'm deeply appreciative to parents and students for adapting so quickly to a new way of learning, stay safe. And remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see out there eventually

Speaker 1:
[Inaudible].

 

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