COVID-19 has closed schools, but it can't shut down the appreciation local families have for educators. This is Teacher Appreciation Week and school-at-home seems to be raising the gratitude level for educators by both students and parents.

We talked to a few of the 2,825 students who attend Coldwater Community Schools.

Lincoln Learning Center

Some of Coldwater’s youngest students attend Lincoln Learning Center. Mason Marbaugh is one of them.

His father, Kelly Marbaugh, expressed appreciation by making their front windows a "thank you" sign for school and Tammy Butcher, Mason’s teacher.

“I appreciate her willingness to drive to make sure every kid gets a chance to learn no matter what learning disabilities they may have,” said Kelly. “I love all the teachers at Lincoln for all their teaching abilities and their ability to come together during a pandemic to make sure every kid is not left behind in eating and in learning.”

Max Larsen Elementary

Julie Farmer, principal at Max Larsen Elementary, said, “Teachers recognize that at this time connection with students is most important. They are working tirelessly to find ways to meet ‘face to face’ with kids even from afar. Our kids are feeling the warm presence of their teachers even from a distance.”

Max Vainner is in Kellie Stoud’s young 5’s class at Max Larsen.

“I like giving Mrs. Stroud hugs — and she hugs me back,” Max said. “I like going to school and seeing my friends.”

Now while he’s home, Max said, “I miss my friends, Miss R and Mrs. Stroud.”

McKenna Vainner is in Trisha Brokus’ first grade class.

“Miss Brokus is very silly! She likes to make us laugh. I think she's really pretty, too,” McKenna said. “I like to go to school so I can go to art, music, library, gym, recess and character ed. I get to see my teacher and Miss McConn. I miss my morning hug from Miss Brokus and seeing all my friends. I also miss our class turtle, Shelly.”

Jefferson Elementary

Drake and Mya McBride are twins in Lindsey Dixon’s second grade class at Jefferson Elementary.

“Mrs. Dixon is nice,” Drake said.

He’s happy not to be going to school, but Drake does miss his friends.

Mya said, “Mrs. Dixon is so nice and kind. She is an awesome and fun teacher. I like going to school. I miss my teacher and my friends.” 

Lakeland Elementary

Gary Dancer, Lakeland Elementary principal said, “Teaching and learning is always a challenge, but this year the team has faced the ultimate test, and continues to learn and grow in their craft. They have had to learn from a completely new platform, and are still looking to keep connections with families and kids.”

Olivia Harris is in Jayne Harris’ fifth-grade class at Lakeland.

“Mrs. Harris is nice. If we don't know how to do something or if we have a question about something, anything, she helps us figure it out,” Olivia said.

Now with distance learning “Twice a week we do a video chat with Mrs. Harris and the other kids in my class. She makes learning fun during the chat,” she said.

Olivia likes being at home.

“You can relax while you're doing your work,” she said. “I think if you are relaxed, you can concentrate better and retain more information.”

But Olivia does miss seeing her friends.

Olivia’s mother, Christy Harris, also appreciates her daughter’s teacher.

“Mrs. Harris is a very down-to-earth and understanding teacher,” Christy said. “She takes time to get to know her students and does whatever she can to help them in whatever way best fits their learning abilities. Olivia has lucked out by having great role models each year throughout her educational career at Coldwater Community schools.”

Legg Middle School

Julie Slusher, principal at Legg Middle School said, “With very little notice, our teachers are implementing online learning, creating new opportunities for kids to engage, and reaching out to connect with students and families. We are incredibly grateful to the Coldwater schools teachers for their time and their dedication to our students.”

Brie Harris, a sixth grader at Legg Middle School, likes her teachers.

“Mrs. (Stephanie) Aughenbaugh is very kind and always has a positive attitude,” Brie said. “Being in middle school is difficult and students can have bad days, but having a teacher with these characteristics can help by making someone's day better.”

Brie also likes doing school from home “because it's less stressful. I have less anxiety but I miss my friends,” she said.

Hunter Smith is a seventh-grader at Legg.

He appreciates and named all his teachers including his music, dance and church leaders.

“Mrs. Stahl is the nicest teacher. This year we enjoyed books, creative projects, we celebrated her newborn daughter and had an online scavenger hunt,” he said

Susan Sobeske, Business Professionals of America advisor is “inspirational,” Hunter said. As a result of Sobeske's hard work, he and two fellow BPA members had earned a place in national finals and would have been competing in Washington, D.C., this week, except for the shutdown.

“These wonderful people and more have poured into my life. I couldn’t be more grateful than to live in Branch County and attend Coldwater Community Schools,” Hunter said. 

His mother Josie Smith said, “I appreciate Hunter’s teachers for taking a special interest in him. Many of them have invited us to their home or to celebrate with them. They have treated Hunter as their lifelong friend. He has so many caring adults in his life,” Josie said. “Educators are special because they give generously of themselves and their talents.”

Owen Mitchell, a Legg eighth grader said, “Mrs. (Heather) Sobek is nice, kind, understanding and helpful all while pushing you to do your best.”

Owen would rather be going to school.

“I miss seeing my friends and learning new things with all my teachers,” he said.

Coldwater High School

Emily Langworthy, a sophomore at Coldwater High School, said, “I appreciate the teachers. I like how they don't give up on you. They help you work through your tough times and struggles. They may be ‘hard’ on you, but it's because they want you to succeed in school. They want you to walk down the aisle at graduation because they know you can succeed.” 

Polly Galliers, is a sophomore at the high school.

“I personally really miss school, not so much the school work but the people. I miss my friends, teachers, and especially Mrs. Parsell,” Polly said. “I nominated Mrs. Parsell for teacher of the year because she is so awesome. Not only with me but all of her students. She gets me, she understands me and she believes in me. I miss her so much.”

School at home is not Polly’s preference.

“It is super weird not being in school right now. It wouldn't be so bad if I could actually hang out with my friends like a typical summer break,” she said. “I am very thankful for the multiple social media platforms to keep me in touch with all my friends.”

Mia Rzepka, is a junior at CHS.

“Throughout my three years of high school, I have experienced so many wonderful teachers and so many that have stuck with me over time,” she said. “One of my life-long favorite teachers is Mr.Schorfhaar (Schorf). I’ve had him for weight training and advanced P.E. but he is more than just a lifting or P.E. teacher. He knows how to turn your day right side up if something is wrong. He is always willing to help you out or let you go visit that teacher to fix your problem.”

Even though she not a fan of English class, Mia likes the teacher.

“Another of my all-time favorites is Mrs.Schwind,” Mia said. “She always goes above and beyond to make sure we have all the materials we need to be successful but also have fun while learning. Although I am not a huge fan of English class I look forward to saying good morning to her and asking how her day is going. Coldwater High School has some of the best teachers ever.”