20 Teachers Who Went Above and Beyond for Their Students During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Meditation Teacher Helps Families During COVID-19 – Friday Feels

What would we do without our teachers?! 

It’s a question so many parents across the country and around the world have asked themselves in the past 12 months as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close their doors and begin distance learning.

But as students of all ages begin returning to the classroom or continue gathering on computers to interact with teachers, many educators are going above and beyond to make the transition a smooth and easy one.

For some teachers, they’ve left the classroom and surprised students at home—all while practicing social distancing, of course. Others have delivered birthday and graduation gifts nobody saw coming.

Regardless of the act, they all share a common thread: It’s all out of love.

As Americans mark one year since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic, we decided to applaud just some of the many educators doing their absolute best. For many, this isn’t about extra credit or bonus points. Instead, it’s simply what they feel compelled to do everyday for their special students. 

Take a look at 20 teachers who deserve a round of applause for their innovative, thoughtful and creative acts of kindness during a whole new time. And do us a favor: Join us and thank an educator for all they’re doing. 

Instagram @berryeducational

Head to Toe Dedication

Face masks, shields and gloves are just some of the things teachers will happily wear if it means their students can learn. “You gotta do what you gotta do!” Portland, Oregon learning specialist assistant Mallory Berry wrote on Instagram. “Special Education during COVID times is no joke! Most of our students who are in our LIPI program are unable to wear masks or any sort of PPE. I’ll wear this any and all the time if it means our students get to come to school!”

Instagram @making_mackenzie

In It to Win It

No matter what is going on around them, teachers love to put their students first. “The somehow trying to balance teaching, running a business, being a wife, staying healthy, planning a COVID wedding, keeping up with friendships & a social life is the hard part,” Chattanooga, Tennessee second grade teacher MacKenzie O’Neal wrote on Instagram. “BUT, it’s just for a season. And I know it won’t last forever, so I push through. Because we’re determined and there’s not always a shortcut. Sometimes getting to the end feels like a tough hike or a marathon race. But if my littles can do it, that definitely means I can do it.” 


Birthday Bonanza

Manhattan Beach Unified School District teacher Heather Tuttle wanted to surprise one of her students on his birthday. What came next was pure magic. “My son’s Special Education teacher surprised him during his ‘Birthday Drive-by’ yesterday,” Pete Halvorsen shared on Twitter. “She strolled up in a unicorn costume dancing to ‘One More Time’ from Trolls. Ms. Tuttle you’re the best!!”

He added, “It takes a Special person to choose that line of work…And Ms Tuttle puts the Special in Special Education year round. Happy we could shine a bit of light on her and the other teachers doing their best in a really difficult time for everyone.”


House Call

Although Husmann Elementary School student Olivia Galto was named Student of the Month for March 2020, she couldn’t pick up her certificate because the ceremony was canceled. But in a surprise move, her teacher Kathryn Snell showed up at her doorstep to personally deliver a bag of goodies including her certificate.

“It meant so much to me that she came all the way to my house to give me my certificate during this crazy time. I was sad I couldn’t hug her, but I still love that I got to see her,” Olivia shared with E! News. Her mom Katie Galto added, “I couldn’t get over how thoughtful it was that she did that…It’s not surprising though, Ms. Snell has gone above and beyond to celebrate and recognize all of her students, and their accomplishments, since day one. They all adore her and it’s very easy to understand why!” 

Instagram @mrshudsonteaches

The New Classroom

Students and parents, let’s remember just how difficult it is to teach dozens of students from home. “What you probably see in this picture: cute home-classroom decor⁣,” North Texas third grade teacher Kelsee Hudson shared on Instagram. “What you might see in this picture: dark overgrown hair roots, wrinkly shorts, a laptop propped up on a crate, junk on the desk, messy handwriting⁣⁣.”

She continued, “What you don’t see in this picture: 23 tabs open on my laptop, junk stuffed in my desk drawers, my toddler throwing a fit in the other room, and a super tired mama who has been up with said toddler since 4:30 a.m. due to a storm. Just a reminder that there’s so much that we can’t see in the pictures posted in this online space.” Now that’s a lesson we can all learn from. 

Kim Houldin


For Arroyo Vista Elementary School teacher Kim Houldin, distance learning wouldn’t stop her from scheduling one-on-one reading time with her Orange County, Calif., students like Sterling Barnette. “We feel blessed to have a teacher who has stepped up, shown up and continues to help my child succeed at school…even though it looks completely different now,” Sterling’s mom Bethany Barnette shared with E! News.

Jennifer Woodward

Students Helping Alumni

Tesoro High School A.P. Psychology teacher Jennifer Woodward came across a former student’s social media page that left her inspired. “I saw nurse Brittany Davies-Morris‘ post with lines on her face from mask imprints and a look of exhaustion,” the Orange County, Calif., teacher shared with E! News. “I meet with my current students via Google Meet every Monday. I told them about it. They said, ‘Let’s do something for her.'”

Now, her students are raising money and donating lunches to alumni serving on the frontline. Most recently, nurse Nicole Gunther and her staff (pictured above) at Children’s Hospital in Denver received Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwiches. “I need a new person now!” Jennifer shared with E! News. “My students want to do more!”

Instagram @socialstudies_withsalasky

Creative Classroom

Mt. Vernon Middle School teacher Marisa Salasky wouldn’t let the coronavirus stop her from creating memorable lesson plans. “What you’re looking at is a history teacher who has been desperate to do something more interactive to teach the Civil War than what she’s been doing,” the Fortville, Indiana teacher shared on Instagram. “SO enter: Toy Soldier reenactment of Picketts Charge/Battle of Gettysburg, in my living room, on my couch… key players included: Viking Little People, Batman, and WWII soldiers.” 

Instagram @the.curly.haired.teacher

Power of Words

Hemmerling Elementary School teacher Abi Perez and her school staff worked hard on a slideshow for all students to show how much they are missed. “I miss YOUR smiles. I miss YOUR laughs. I miss YOUR silly questions. I miss YOUR thoughtful answers. I miss YOUR quirkiness. I miss YOUR resilience. I miss YOUR presence,” the Banning, Calif., teacher wrote on Instagram. “Love, YOUR teacher who misses you so much!”

Instagram @cassie_stephenz

Finished Products

“I heard thru the grapevine that my ‘seniors’ (our fourth grade kiddos) were worried that they might not get their hand dyed and hand stitched pillows back. Many of them were in the middle of finishing them, coming in during their recess to add buttons, tassels and even make multiple pillows (with one dude making a pillow for each member of his family!),” art teacher Cassie Stephens shared on Instagram. “Well, worry not, fourthies! I busted out my sewing machine today and finished off any pillows that needed those final stitches to call them complete. I can’t wait for these kids to have their pillows, this was EASILY their favorite project of the year.” 

Instagram @kindergartensmorgasboard

T is for Teacher

Nashville kindergarten teacher Greg Smedley-Warren ended the 2019-2020 school year on a fun note. “Each year, we do Backwards Bootcamp to celebrate the last 26 days of school. We start the year with ABC BOOTCAMP to learn letters and sounds so Backwards Bootcamp brings our time together full circle and makes our last 26 days fun!” he shared with E! News. When it was time to celebrate the letter T, this teacher knew just what to do. “T for wear your favorite t-shirt!” Greg wrote on Instagram. “I made this shirt to show my kids how much I love and miss them!”


Knock Knock

One afternoon, Minnetonka High School co-teachers Taylor Moon and Katie Gustafson decided to practice social distancing and visit their students including Ainan Farah at home. “Today was one of the most rewarding days I’ve experienced as a Special Education teacher,” Taylor wrote on Twitter. “To see the surprised smiles on their faces was truly priceless. I miss these kiddos more than anything.” 

Las Flores Elementary School

Car Parades

Across the nation, schools like Las Flores Elementary School in Orange County, Calif., organized car parades so teachers can see parents and students from a safe distance. Fifth grade teacher Heather Trudeau decked out her car and grabbed a megaphone to say hello to her kids. “So many students and families came out to smile, wave, cheer, hold up signs and show LFES love!” the school shared on Instagram. “Our hearts are full.” 


Spreading Sunshine

Second grade teacher Linda Wright decided to surprise her Jesse Wharton Elementary School students with windmills that read, “Your teacher misses you.”

“My son got an awesome surprise from his teacher this morning on our front lawn!” Greensboro, North Carolina resident Adam Dovico shared on Twitter. “Such a sweet and above and beyond gesture from her!” 


The Beat Goes On

We can’t forget about the teachers outside of school. Julie’s Fancy Feet Dance Academy teacher Julie Martin surprised her student McKenzie Thompson on the day she found out her South Carolina high school would be closed for the rest of the school year. Another bummer? McKenzie was a senior. “‘A dance teacher helps her student find the song in her heart, the beat in her feet and a passion for life.’ Thank you, Mrs. Julie for believing in McKenzie,” her mom shared on Twitter. “Thank you for bringing a smile to this class of 2020 graduate today! #danceteachersmakeadifference.” 


Greetings Students

Bryan City Schools teacher Beth Wyse decided to surprise her kindergarteners including Cooper Keel at their respective homes with presents and goodies. “After six weeks of remote learning, Mrs. Wyse’s face-to-face surprise visit gave Cooper the school connection he’s been missing,” Cooper’s dad Nathan Keel shared with E! News. “She made his day.” 


Senior Surprises

At Portland High School in Portland, Tennessee, teachers like Mary Beth Allen wanted to surprise graduates for all of their accomplishments in and out of the classroom. “Our principal and guidance counselors designed and printed the signs, then the faculty and teachers spent time placing them in each senior’s yard Friday morning,” Mary Beth shared with E! News. “It was a really special day. We’ve tried to brainstorm ways to celebrate our seniors since they’re missing so many of BIG end of year celebrations.” 

Instagram @jumpingintojp

Meet the World’s Bravest

For many teachers like Meg Rumbelow, teaching students about the helpers is more important than ever. “Learning all about occupations and essential people in our community this term—we are absolutely loving these puppets for our new oral language & play rotations,” the Australia based teacher shared on Instagram. 


Big Night In

In the United Kingdom, BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief teamed up for Big Night In. The initiative encouraged students to dress up as a key worker or a superhero. Widey Court teacher Ellie Dingley decided to join her students and dress the part. “Prouder than ever to be able to call myself a teacher during these times!” she wrote on Twitter when posing in her super costume. 


Spirit Days

For so many schools, spirit days and dress up days were canceled because of COVID-19. But for St Thomas Aquinas teacher Trish Delancey, she still wanted to celebrate Crazy Hair Day. “Getting ready for a google meet with my grade 6 LA—wacky hair day theme. Went nautical,” the Canada teacher shared on Twitter. “#ABlearningATHome #ecsrdstrength.” 

Mark your calendars! NBC News’ Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie will anchor a special primetime hour titled COVID One Year Later: Life After Lockdown airing Thursday, March 11 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are part of the NBCUniversal family)

Originally published on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. PST

For the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic and for tips on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov.