Teacher raises funds to provide class with face shields

Photo submitted - Heather Kocjancic, a first grade teacher at South St. Marys Street Elementary School, is shown with her class last year. The teacher raised funding to purchase clear, full face shields for her students upon their return to school in the fall.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

A South St. Marys Street Elementary School teacher has successfully raised funds to provide face shields for her young students to ensure she can see their faces through the many stages of learning.
“Face shields will help immensely when I'm teaching my students letter sounds and enhancing their reading ability. I want to be able to see their facial expressions and make it as normal of a school year as possible. With face masks I wouldn’t be able to see when they are sad or happy and that kind of drives my teaching typically. If they like something I can keep going with it,” explained Heather Kocjancic, a first grade teacher at South.
Kocjancic said she became nervous when she first heard the news that the Pennsylvania Department of Education was requiring students to wear masks to school whenever they cannot socially distance up to six feet.
This prompted her to start a “Show Me Your Smile” campaign through Donors Choose, a crowdfunding platform website dedicated to public schools. Within a half hour of posting the project she went above and beyond her goal of $161.The funding will be used to purchase 25 full, transparent lightweight face shields, headbands, and a pack of duct tape which she plans to use to mark dividers on classroom tables.
She noted that with over 20 students in her classroom, it is not always possible to maintain the six feet social distance separation thus prompting the use of the face shields.
Kocjancic explained she has spent a good deal of money finding a comfortable face mask, shield, and bandana for one of her young sons who struggles with some sensory issues. She believes the face shields may better accommodate her students, especially those with sensory issues who may not be able to wear face masks.
Students will keep their shields inside their individual classroom cubbies. At the end of each day they will be cleaned with Clorox wipes.
“This will also teach them the responsibility of doing that (cleaning) themselves and the importance of that,” Kocjancic added.