Educators see signs of hope

Cala Smoldt/Correspondent
Kathy Felt, 8th grade math teacher at Sherrard junior high saw her idea take shape when teachers and staff were surprised by appreciation lawn signs last weekend.

SHERRARD — “Sometimes it feels like we're ‘building the airplane as we are flying it’, yet we are doing it well,” said Kathy Felt, 8th grade math teacher with the Sherrard School District, about what it’s like to teach online during a pandemic.

“People crave recognition and appreciation for their work. All district employees have pulled together during the pandemic and resulting school shut down to help students survive, be well, and learn. It has not been easy,” she said.

Sherrard teachers and staff were surprised to discover “education hero” yard signs over the weekend — following teacher appreciation week, thanks to an idea turned reality when Felt was inspired by another district. “One of my colleagues was telling us about teachers in his district being recognized by their PTO with a large sign on the building when they arrived to clean out their rooms. He said they were so appreciative of the recognition of the jobs they were doing in these tough times. I started thinking that we might be able to do a similar thing.”

When she saw a yard sign from a roofing company working in her neighborhood — she knew that was it.

“So I ran the idea by (Superintendent Alan Boucher) and he was all in … for all district employees. He had been trying to figure out how to celebrate Teacher Appreciation week this year — and felt this was perfect,” said Felt.

The Sherrard School District posted a “thank you” message on their social media, “Our school district staff is awesome and deserves our appreciation not only this week, but everyday.”

The Sherrard Elementary PTO and Sherrard Boosters donated for the signs.

The concerted effort included 14 district employees — among those were Superintendent Boucher, administrators, teachers, secretaries, bus drivers and one student accompanied his mom with her deliveries.

Volunteers coordinated to deliver 212 signs — each picked up signs at separate times and worked carefully to disperse either two types of signs, “Sherrard Teacher Hero,” or a “Sherrard Staff Hero - Lives Here” - both include the words, “We appreciate you,” and the Sherrard Schools Tiger logo.

“I knew it would take a herculean effort to get this done in a very short amount of time, but we are worth it and everything came together perfectly,” she said.

The signs came from QC Press, owned by Dave Brieser, “Who happens to be the stepfather of one of my current students. When I contacted him, he was immediately excited and wanted to be a part of the project--and made it happen. He and his staff took my idea and artwork suggestions, incorporated the official logo of the district and came up with the designs. They are perfect--school colors, eye catching, and durable,” said Felt.

"I loved it. It’s was a great gesture by the school district. It made me feel appreciated and cared about during this crazy time," said Zach Johnson, Matherville Intermediate school counselor.

The purpose was to raise employee morale and provide recognition for a job well done.

Volunteers witnessed a variety of reactions from recipients. Some cried, others jumped up and down, everyone smiled, and many wanted to hug their deliverers… “But due to social distancing, we were not able to do that… Everyone thanked us over and over again. Teachers and staff are proud to work in this district.

“Tiger pride has once again spread throughout the district, and beyond, and we all really needed a dose of the loving at this time. It really means so much to our dedicated staff.

It is a great time to be a Tiger,” said Felt.