North Larose Elementary School Pre-K teacher Melissa Fanguy may not physically see her students right now because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But she’s still doing what she can to touch their lives and inspire the growth in their young minds — one book at a time.
Fanguy goes on Facebook Live daily and reads children’s stories to local children — videos that have generated hundreds of views in recent days.
Fanguy has such vibrance and energy in telling the stories. She’s also enlisted the help of her two sons to help mix up the voices children hear throughout the stories.
The 30-year teacher also sends messages and activities to parents of children as often as she can to help make sure that her children are being productive during the stoppage.
“I miss my students and school so much,” Fanguy said. “I was having a wonderfully fun and rewarding school year. My students were and are an absolute joy to teach. My para, students and I are a ‘School Family.’ Throughout the school year, we call our class a ‘School Family,’ and we use that term often.”
And in this “School Family,” there’s togetherness, even in the time away.
Fanguy said she used the Seesaw App to be able to communicate with the families of her children. In a class of 20 kids, 19 signed up for the app, which allows her to send activities to parents and activities they can work on while school is delayed.
But Fanguy said she missed the in-person, day-to-day interaction with her students — especially telling them stories.
So she took matters into her own hands.
When told that school was going to be indefinitely shut down, Fanguy said she took three things: the class’s pet fish, pet turtle and then as many of her books as she could grab.
She initially posted videos of herself reading stories on Seesaw, then started sending them to her nieces and nephews.
Before long, Fanguy decided to open up the doors to her virtual classroom to anyone with access to Facebook, using Facebook Live to tell stories to hundreds of small children looking for entertainment in their downtime.
Since she’s started telling stories online, Fanguy said she’s been overwhelmed with love and support from current students, former students and others who just appreciate the service that she’s doing for the community.
“It made my heart so happy to hear from former students who remembered me reading these same books many moons ago and now they were sharing them with their own kids,” she said. “Also, hearing from Facebook friends who’ve said their children and grandchildren watch them over and over.”
When asked how good it feels to be doing such a heroic deed, Fanguy said she’s just doing whatever she can to help out locals in a tough time.
She said she’s watched and seen so many stories of people using their talents throughout the pandemic to help out, and she wanted to offer her best talent — her love for children’s books — to help locals out.
“I’ve seen so many people in our wonderful community using their talents to help others throughout this pandemic,” she said. “Whether it was sewing masks, cooking for the needy or reaching out to the elderly. And then there’s our superhero health care providers putting their lives on the line. I am so proud of our bayou community.
“I’m not very talented. I can’t sew or cook, but I have a life-long love of children’s books and I figured that would be a way I can help — even if it was to reach only one child. This is helping me get through this time as much — if not more — than the kids listening to my stories.”