After 21 years as an elementary teacher, Cara Nicoletti never expected something like a worldwide virus to separate her from her students.
She teaches fourth-grade students at Quailwood Elementary and said she wanted to find a creative way to help them remember this time in their lives. So she wrote a book about it.
"I wrote the book because I wanted to document for my students everything that has happened, things are happening so fast and I don't think anyone is taking the time to write them down. I wanted them to have something tangible from me for the rest of their lives."
As her students participated in at-home activities, drive-by birthday parties, and virtual award ceremonies, Miss Nicoletti was drawing out the memories.
After taking inspiration from her students' time during the pandemic, she illustrated and wrote "Once Upon a Time There was COVID-19" and made copies for each of her students.
"Being able to write a book gave me a sense of purpose and a positive twist on the pandemic. I wanted them to remember it wasn't just about people being sick, it was about families coming together and teachers getting creative to make it fun for the kids."
While the book illustrates bittersweet memories, Miss Nicoletti hopes it will help her students understand her perspective as they begin distance learning.
"The last page of the book says 'on the last day of school Miss M and her students said goodbye online for the summer, they gave each other virtual hugs, they knew eventually everything is going to be ok and their teacher loved them very much, I'm getting emotional, but I think it's very important."