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Amid COVID-19, Colorado teacher inspired by 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'
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8th grade teacher Mr Prickett as Mister Rogers

With schools closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, teachers and parents are looking for the best ways to engage students in at-home learning. Creativity is key in this time of social distancing.

"Our public schools have been turned upside down," says Chris Prickett, an 8th grade U.S. history teacher at Redlands Middle School in Grand Junction. He misses his students and his classroom.

"I'm big into putting on a show for my class and building relationships and everything like that, so doing it via computer is really difficult to make that connection and stuff," Prickett says.

He has now found comfort in the man who makes us all feel better, Fred Rogers. As you'll see in the accompanying video, Mister Rogers is helping Mister Prickett ease the anxiety for both the teacher and his students over the transition to distance learning.

RMPBS: Colorado Voices

Mr. Prickett's Neighborhood

Mr. Prickett is finding a fun way to connect with students.

“Sunday night, before our first day, I was really freaking out about what to do. Not sure which way to go with things. At 3 a.m. in the morning, I came up with this idea of doing the 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood',” Prickett says. “At 3 a.m. it sounded pretty fun, but I wasn’t sure how 8th graders would take it. But the kids really loved it.”

Prickett adds: “Not only are the teachers apprehensive, but the kids are apprehensive, too. You have to be pretty disciplined to do online stuff. Students were sending me emails about their anxiety, but when they got the videos, it took some weight off their shoulders, saying hey, we’re going to have fun with this … and the kids loved it.”

"We can do Google meets and whatnot, but it's still hard to actually have that connection and see the fun side of things again," Prickett says. "So when they see me in the videos they say, "Oh yeah, he would do that in class and everything so I think it builds that connection that even though we're not together I still can do the classroom stuff I usually do."

It's a beautiful day in Mister Prickett's neighbohood.

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