The Western Illinois University Social Media Lab, connected to the Department of Communication, is helping promote a program to raise money for teachers in the Macomb School District who are teaching remotely during the pandemic.

As K-12 classrooms across the area transition to online learning, the local teachers are spending their own money to purchase and adapt online learning materials. The Community for Classrooms program was born from this need and the Social Media Lab is helping promote the fundraiser.

WIU senior communication major Elizabeth Lutz, of California, MO, is creating and posting social media content for the program.

“We are helping by creating social media graphics and videos and promoting the project,” said WIU Communication Associate Professor Josh Averbeck. “Community for Classrooms is the kind of project I am eager to provide assistance. I want our work in the lab to make a difference in our community, and Community for Classrooms will be very impactful. We are grateful to assist on this project.”

Teachers from Macomb schools have created wish lists, which can be found at community4classrooms.org. The project creator, Shawn Snidow says they will soon add teachers from the West Prairie School District.

“The philosophy behind the Community for Classrooms project is that we want to support teachers in ways that they say they need support,” said Snidow. “We recognize that the traditional school supply lists do not cover the biggest or most pressing expenses they may have this year, especially as they transition content into more collaborative and online forms. In order to provide teachers with that kind of support, we developed a public resource page that will allow anyone to contribute to our teachers’ class needs.”

A visit to the website, community4classrooms.org, will show the names of the teachers in the district and a wish list for their classrooms.

“I’m a PTO mom who has had a front-row seat to watch our teachers move the magic they make in a classroom on to a computer,” said Snidow. “Teachers did not ask for this. They did not complain to me that they don’t have what they need. I know how much work, time, and effort online teaching requires, because I’ve done it at the college level for years. However, when I transition a class online, I do so for one three-hour a week class at a time, and my students already know how to read and follow instructions. We have preschool and elementary teachers who are working with kids who don’t know how to read yet and are still learning to follow instructions. They are developing or purchasing and adapting bright, interactive, easy to understand learning materials that keep our children engaged.”

Snidow added that junior high and high school teachers are also working hard to keep students engaged and learning and she is “in awe” of the work they are doing.

“If we can make their holidays a little brighter or give them an extra hour of sleep at night because they are able to purchase pre-made templates for their class curriculum, they deserve it,” she said.

To learn more about the project, visit community4classrooms.org, or the related social media accounts, facebook.com/Community4Classrooms and instagram.com/community4classrooms.

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.