Wilson Montessori implements Virtual Spirit Week to lift spirits, showcase learning

The Monday after Spring Break, pictures of students proudly showcasing their family heritage flooded Wilson Montessori’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

With schools closed amid COVID-19 precautions, the Montrose-based campus has found a creative way to support their students and families during this time with a Virtual Spirit Week.

“We must be mindful that this may be a difficult time for children and their families,” said Wilson Principal Shameika Sykes-Salvador. “While we won’t be seeing them in person, it’s still important for children and families not to feel isolated.”

Schools often implement theme weeks to build school spirit and, according to Sykes-Salvador, there’s no reason to stop doing so just because the classrooms have been shifted to distance learning.

“Staying connected with others will support maintaining positive emotional health and help children feel like they can still ‘see’ their friends and school family,” Sykes-Salvador said. “We are in a time when we must all work together in support of each other and find ways to help, even if it’s from the comfort of home.”

Wilson’s virtual spirit week kicked off with “Heritage Day,” and Sykes-Salvador started it all by sharing a photo of her grandmother and the Sykes family matriarch, Betsy Ellen Fleming Sykes. Student heritage photos soon followed, including poses with pasta representing Italian culture, celebrations of Nowruz, the Persian new year, and one student dressed in a traditional German Dirndl.

One Wilson parent used the opportunity to teach her children the meaning of heritage by having them “interview” their grandparents about their Texas culture.

“Ash loved hearing and reporting about her Momo’s Texas childhood life antics, and Kaydn discovered his grandpa’s Irish heritage,” Krystal Perkins commented on the school’s Facebook page. “Bailey learned that his great-great-grandpa helped build the Washburn Tunnel.”

On Tuesday, students were encouraged to share a food recipe they like to make with their family, Wellness Wednesday promotes mindfulness, while “Sports Day” Thursday is reserved for physical activity and Friday is all about virtually showcasing Wilson Spirit.

According to Principal Sykes-Salvador, she got the idea while researching what other schools across the country were doing to help calm students and parents’ nerves during this time. And she plans to keep the virtual spirit alive for as long as possible, implementing a weekly online storytime and continuing the campuses “kindness brigade” through virtual acts of kindness.

“I think it has helped relieve the stress of trying to figure out online learning,” she said. “I wanted to send the message that we also need to use the time we have at home to make family connections.” Follow along with Wilson Montessori’s Virtual Spirit Week at https://www.facebook.com/wilson.montessori or https://twitter.com/Wilson_HISD