In Brazil, Milena Morais’s example has thrilled and inspired her class.
For many, staying away from those you love has become one of the biggest challenges during the current period of social distancing. For children, a lack of connection with their friends and other relevant adults can be even more painful.
A Seventh-day Adventist primary school teacher in Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso, Brazil, believes she has found a way around the problem. She is now visiting her students dressed in a heart-shaped costume.
Milena Campos Morais Rosário, a third-grade teacher at K-12 Rondonópolis Adventist Academy, shared that during exchanges with parents via WhatsApp groups, she became aware of the lockdown toll on her students. Mandatory social distancing was directly impacting their motivation, she said.
“Kids are now missing their school routine,” Morais said. “I was thinking about what I could do to make up for these feelings and show them love in a safe way that followed the government health guidelines.”
Morais shared that, as she was weighing her options, she remembered that the school had a heart-shaped costume in storage that she thought could be adapted to double as protective clothing.
Shortening the Distance
Since then, Morais has organized her day so that, between her online classes and the time it takes her to prepare her lessons, she could pay an unannounced visit to her students.
Morais says she followed the social distancing rules and guidelines in force.
“I always stay outside the student’s house,” Morais explained. “I disinfect my costume after every visit, as well as my hands and face mask.”
Bruno Daniel da Silva Rosário, Morais’s husband and professor of Religious Education at the school, supported her along the way. As Morais visits a student, he makes sure she can play music from a speaker as she knocks at a student’s door.
“He is my sound assistant!” Morais said. “I approach a door with my speaker playing a lively tune. I start to sing and make funny movements, so the children smile.”
With her heart-shaped costume, Morais believes she is making children and parents happier. Parents agree.
“My son usually adapts well to unfavorable experiences,” said Maria Célia dos Santos, mother of 8-year-old João. “But his teacher’s presence brought home everything he experiences in his school environment — human interaction and warmth. He was very touched!” As soon as Morais left, said dos Santos, João told her, “Mom, I am so happy I feel my heart is dancing!”
According to Morais, those reactions from parents and students have renewed her spirit as well.
“I feel joy and a sense of accomplishment in reciprocating their affection,” she said. “Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, touching base with children motivates me to keep working for a type of education that transcends mere teaching.”
“I plan to pay a visit to every student in my two classes,” Morais said. “All 46 of them!”
The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.