Screenshot of Kindergarten teacher Shawna Bradley and her husband singing the song “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan during Creslane’s virtual story time.

CRESWELL — As a mom of three, Creslane principal Amy Halley said with the closure of the schools, she recognized the challenges that came with the transition of teaching from home and felt a sense of urgency to keep the kids connected to the school and each other. 

“I knew children, everywhere, were experiencing similar emotions,” she said. “We are a family at school.”

The idea of doing virtual story times came to Halley when she was reading the principal blogs she follows. Many administrators spoke about bringing the community together by providing as much stability as possible, and Halley asked her staff if anyone wanted to send a short video of them reading books to share on social media. 

“I felt strongly that our students and community needed to hear the comforting voices of their teachers and to hear how loved and missed they were,” Halley said. “I also felt like books would be a great distraction from the constant news which was causing a lot of worry and uncertainty.”

Halley is even receiving videos from the Intergenerational Reading Collaboration program.  

Kindergarten teacher Shawna Bradley said her hope is that it lets students know how much they care about them and connects them in ways that are more personal, as their intention is to support their overall well-being, and not just academics. 

Fourth-grade teacher Maria Saputo said it’s a way to be silly together, interact with literature and invite them into her world outside of school. Her 2-year-old daughter often joins on the calls and it shows the importance of a work-life balance. 

Third-grade teacher Mary Lou Neill said the relationships they build and maintain with students is the most important thing of all, and not being able to see the students in person has taken that foundational piece out of the equation. 

“Story time allows them to see and hear us. It feels like we are waving at them from across a wide canyon,” she said.

“It’s not as good as those hugs and those conversations we normally would have every day, but it’s something we can do and comply with the law.”