Third-Grade Teacher Turns Her Car Into a Library on Wheels
Brooke Marciano '16/'18 is making meaningful memories with her students outside the classroom.
Elementary schools were the perfect playground for learning until the COVID-19 pandemic. When teaching and learning transitioned to an online format, Brooke Marciano '16/'18, a two-time SUNY Brockport education graduate, made sure her students maintained a creative and fun learning environment.
Inside her third-grade classroom at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in the Gates Chili Central School District, the students call her Ms. Marciano. She’s the type of teacher who calls her students her "babies" and decorates the walls with their work, bright colors, and inspiring quotes.
Marciano says it has been a rollercoaster since the students were sent home in March. She began facing challenges right away.
“Starting off, there were not many kids participating. And as a teacher, when everything is out of your control and you can’t see them, all you want is to hear from them,” Marciano said.
She explained that teachers were desperately trying to get in touch with families. Marciano reached out to make sure students had adequate resources and that their mental health was addressed before schoolwork.
“There have been so many ups and downs” she said. She started to plan unique events and experiences, as she was determined to make this hard time a little better.
On Mondays, Marciano sits down to check the log of completed student work, and she notes which students have completed every assignment. Then, she calls their families offering three rewards to choose from.
Option one: She drives to the family's home to read to the student in her vehicle, which she has transformed into a library on wheels. Option two: The student presents a show-and-tell in the next Zoom call with the class. And option three: The student has a one-on-one call with Ms. Marciano.
The majority choose the library on wheels.
When her students look back on third grade, they likely won’t remember their online learning assignments. Marciano said, “They’re going to remember Ms. Marciano came to my house and surprised me and read to me because I did all my work."
The library on wheels looks as cozy as her classroom. With the help of her nieces and nephews, she outfitted the hatchback of her vehicle with stuffed animals, hung a sign displaying, “Ms. Marciano’s Library on Wheels,” and under that, showcased a selection of books to choose from.
"The library on wheels was a hit," she said. The students would scream when she opened the trunk.
But that’s not the only memory they might hold onto.
On May 15, Marciano hosted a talent show for her students over Zoom. It was complete with invitations sent out to the families. On April 3, she led a 40-car parade that processed through all 70 streets of the Neil Armstrong neighborhoods. And as the academic year comes to close, she has assigned each day a theme. “Camping Day,” for example, involves a writing activity, a recipe for s'mores, and a read-aloud.
“I’m trying to make the most meaningful and memorable experience for them,” she said.