SPRING HILL, Fla.– Along with the three R’s, a Deltona Elementary school teacher last week delivered the letter ‘S’ to students; in the form of ‘S’unshine that brightened their days and taught them that–although they can’t be together in one classroom right now–they remain one class.
Like many teachers, Michael Decker–a first-grade instructor at Deltona Elementary–is currently teaching his class via The Canvas Learning Management Platform online, and through weekly class meetings conducted via Zoom.
Still, there was something missing.
“I wanted to do something special for the kids,” said Decker.
Decker’s something special took the form of a multi-faceted gift project set to benefit the 20 students enrolled in Decker’s Distance Learning; the online learning program that connects the teacher to his students.
Decker and wife Kristine ordered the printing of 20 DDL T-shirts for the kids, and also purchased sidewalk chalk; collecting the gifts into goody bags that they delivered to the students’ homes.
“We stayed a safe distance, and it was heartbreaking when the kids wanted to come out and give me a hug and they couldn’t,” said Decker. “But we saw them open the door. We saw their smiles.”
And he heard their words.
“The kids called out, ‘I miss you!'” he said. “I told them that I missed them too.”
This only marks the beginning of Decker’s deliveries, set to become an integral part of his virtual classroom experience, which will include more personally delivered gifts and an exercise class taught remotely by the Deckers’ 10-year-old son, Grayson.
“Next week, we’re planning to take scavenger hunt games that we’ve prepared to the kids,” he said. “In that way, they can get some outside play time with their parents.”
Debi Shellabarger, principal of Deltona Elementary School, gives the teacher high marks for excellence in caring.
“Mr. Decker is an amazing teacher who represents all of the teachers at Deltona Elementary School. We love and miss our students and their families, however, we want everyone to stay safe,” she said. “We thank all of our families for their grace and patience while we all work together for the benefit of our students’ success.”
And aside from the gifts and good cheer, Michael Decker has a message for his students during this difficult time.
“We got this.”
If you’ve got good news, affirming stories, or creative works that you’d like to share with our readers, send them to Hernando Sun community reporter Megan Hussey at [email protected] Show us your sunshine!