There's a historic teachers strike going on across West Virginia schools right now.

On the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 27, public schools across West Virginia were closed for the fourth consecutive day.

Nearly 20,000 classroom teachers are taking part in West Virginia's first statewide strike, affecting more than 277,000 students across all 55 counties. The strike began on Feb. 22, a day after Gov. Jim Justice approved a 2% raise for teachers.

"We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue," Justice said.


However, teachers say that gesture falls far short of expectations, and they plan to continue their strike until Justice agrees to meet with them in person.

Teachers in the state are some of the most underpaid in America.

Only two states pay their teachers less than West Virginia. Educators there earn an average annual salary of $45,622 compared to the national average of $58,353. And the strike is about more than just pay: Teachers say they've had to rely on federal aid to cover shortages in health care and other regular expenses not covered under their current state contracts.

"There were a lot of times where we got to choose between groceries and health coverage for my family," art teacher Jacob Fertig said.

These issues have led a number of people to speak out on their behalf, including Reese Witherspoon.

Critics say the strike isn't technically legal — and they actually have a point.

On the other side of the debate, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stirred up controversy when he wrote in a tweet that the teachers strike was "unlawful."

It turns out he has a point, technically speaking. The last time West Virginia teachers tried striking (in 1990), the state's then-Democratic attorney general ruled that it was unlawful for state employees to strike against the state, except in rare cases.

However, legal experts say the current strike isn't a crime; it's just that such actions aren't legally protected under the state's laws. That means teachers could face "disciplinary action" for their efforts if the state chooses to go that route.

The teachers strike isn't just about the money.

Like teachers everywhere, those in West Virginia do so much more than run classrooms. Nearly a quarter of all children in the state live in poverty. Before the strike officially began, teacher volunteers gathered to prepare thousands of packed lunches for students who rely on free or reduced-cost lunches for their meals.

"Before they made the decision to strike, they wanted to make sure their students' needs were taken care of," said Jennifer Wood, a spokesperson for the American Federation of Teachers union in West Virginia.

The teachers say they are striking to improve the lives of everyone in the educational system, including the students. And with teachers being asked to do more than ever, it doesn't seem like too much to meet with them and discuss how the state can ensure they have the pay and benefits they need to put food on their own dinner tables.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.