Sheri-lyn Carrow began the school year with a full class of 18 pre-kindergarten students, but by February there were just 16. One student left on a long-planned sabbatical with her family to New Zealand and another was diagnosed with leukemia and could not risk returning to school.
Ironically, when the coronavirus pandemic caused Durham Academy to move to online learning both were able to rejoin the class. Almost simultaneously, Carrow’s daily lessons were going viral as family members were passing them on to children in Georgia, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
When schools closed around the country, one of Carrow’s colleagues from her former school in New Jersey texted her and asked “what’s the situation for you and what are you doing,” Carrow said. “I jokingly sent her one of my videos because I make a video every single morning, always in a DA T-shirt. She loved it and sent it to one of her grandchildren who was not having anything happen from his preschool. He enjoyed it and she asked if I would send it to her everyday and she would forward it to him.”
Another of Carrow’s New Jersey colleagues heard about the videos and asked Carrow to send them to her, too, so she could share the lessons with her grandchildren.
“Every day, after I’m done with my class, I send them the links for my video and any unit-themed videos,” Carrow said. “They won’t let me stop. The one in Massachusetts sent me a video of her grandson doing the nature walk in the bug unit and said how much he enjoyed it. Then I heard about Laura Magid, who was sending my videos to Georgia.”
Magid’s daughter, Charlotte, had been learning online as part of Carrow’s class, but her 5-year-old cousin in Georgia was home with no school.
“My nephew is a leukemia survivor and is immunocompromised,” Magid explained. “The whole family shut down to protect him. They were locked down, with six kids out of school. They haven’t left the house in months. My mother-in-law, who is quarranting with them to help, was worried my niece would be falling behind.” She happily accepted when Magid’s husband, Dan, offered to pass along Carrow’s videos and worksheets.
“Charlotte loves it, thinks it’s a lot of fun, and she thought it was fun to share with her cousin. She has loved doing the lessons and, as a parent, it is a lot of fun to see how she learns and what she has engaged with.”
Carrow, who has been teaching for 39 years, said she never expected to be teaching remotely. “I never expected that I would be doing daily videos, or that anybody would want to see them, but it feels great. It’s awesome to impact as many kids as you can as a teacher. It’s heartwarming, very heartwarming.”