When We Go Back To School
At times I may feel worried
Will I remember each new rule
My teacher’s voice will ease my fears
I am safe at school
~excerpt from ‘When We Go Back To School’ by Jennifer Ohrling
Schools were shut down for six months due to COVID-19, and they’re just opening up now. During this time away, Jennifer Ohrling, a Grade 2 teacher at Brigadoon Public School in Kitchener, wrote a children’s book about coping with COVID-19 and going back to school, and had her students illustrate it.
“I was trying to capture feelings, things students were missing most,” says Jennifer. “I wanted to give hope that when we go back it will feel great.”
“Also, in my own classroom, my focus for the book was how to be a helper in the world. We decided we would become helpers to raise money for Grand River Hospital Foundation.”
Jennifer wrote the book and assigned each of her students a couple of lines to draw an illustration for. “I didn’t give my students the entire story – just their lines. I asked them to draw what the words spoke to them, and to use bright bold colours. Every one of my students contributed an illustration!”
Jennifer, her school principal, and other helpers promoted the book through word of mouth, the school newsletter, and Instagram.
At first, the idea was to sell 100 books, with all proceeds going to Grand River. But within a short period of time, they had sold 380. They sent their first donation to the Hospital Foundation with a note about how they raised the money, and soon after, we offered to put the book up for sale on our own online store.
“Doing this book with my students has been uplifting in so many ways,” says Jennifer. “It’s really the kind of teaching I wanted to do, making my kids feel they did something for the community. Also, I’m a very project-based person and it fulfilled my need to have a creative project going.”
Jennifer’s story is a great example of how the community has come to together to help our hospital during this extraordinary time. I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Jennifer, her students, and the staff of Brigadoon Public School for putting together this beautiful book in order to raise funds for our hospital.