Dave Grohl penned a beautiful letter supporting America's teachers
via Tornonto Sun / Twitter

The number of Americans diagnosed wit COVID-19 has exploded over the course of July, but that hasn't stopped the Trump Administration from aggressively pushing for schools to reopen in the fall.

Earlier in the month, Trump tweeted that virtual learning "has proven to be terrible compared to in school."

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who's been a strong advocate for school choice and reducing the federal role in districts, has done an about-face and is pushing schools to reopen as well.

"I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom," she told CNN. "Because we know for most kids, that's the best environment for them."


Her department has also threatened to pull funding from districts that refuse to reopen. "The basic premise of federal funding under law is to provide a full-time education to students. How can you take the money and not provide the service?" a statement from her department read.

The issue of whether to open up schools or not in the fall has myriad considerations. What does science say about children's ability to spread the virus based on age? Has the curve flattened in a specific region? How will the schools handle social distancing?

How does being out of school for an extended period harm children psychologically? What do working parents do if they're children can't go to school?

These are all worthy of consideration, but one of the biggest concerns should be, what do the teachers think?

Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl penned a beautiful essay in The Atlantic supporting the idea that teachers should lead the way through this crisis.

Dave opens the letter admitting he's not a great role model when it comes to education.

"So, with me being a high-school dropout, you would imagine that the current debate surrounding the reopening of schools wouldn't register so much as a blip on my rock-and-roll radar, right? Wrong," Grohl wrote.

"My mother was a public-school teacher."

via NME / Twitter

"She helped generations of children learn how to learn, and, like most other teachers, exhibited a selfless concern for others," Grohl continued. "Though I was never her student, she will forever be my favorite teacher."

Given his lifelong experience with educators he believes they are "essential workers."

"It takes a certain kind of person to devote their life to this difficult and often-thankless job. I know because I was raised in a community of them," Grohl wrote. "I have mowed their lawns, painted their apartments, even babysat their children, and I'm convinced that they are as essential as any other essential workers."

Grohl asked his go-to expert on the topic, his mother Virginia, her thoughts on the issue. "There's so much more to be addressed than just opening the doors and sending them back home," Grohl's 82-year-old, now retired mother, told him over the phone.

She also gave him a list of issues that should be considered before reopening districts: "masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff."

Given the large number of staff at most schools that are older and more vulnerable to the virus, Dave's mother believes schools should remain temporarily closed.

"Remote learning for the time being," Dave's mom said.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Grohl also questioned the qualifications of DeVos, a woman who never spent any time teaching in a classroom.

"I wouldn't trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class?" Grohl wrote.

The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" drummer concluded his letter recommending that, in the school debate, we let teachers lead the way.

"Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are. For without them, where would we be?" Grohl wrote.

"May we show these tireless altruists a little altruism in return. I would for my favorite teacher. Wouldn't you?"

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."