May 19th, 2021

Educator Voice: Make art to share the story of your COVID year

Arts & CultureCoronavirusEducationEducator Voice

On Wednesday, guests Mekka Don, a recording artist whose song “Still Dope” was released Tuesday, and Laura Grundler, co-founder of #K12ArtChat and the Creativity Department, along with host Sari Beth Rosenberg, a high school history teacher, joined educators, students and family members from across the country to discuss the impact the arts and arts education over the past year. Sign up to receive information on future Educator Voice zooms here.

During the zoom, we also discussed Hindsight 20/21, a creative storytelling project for all ages about life during COVID.

Creative storytelling opportunity — Hindsight 20/21

Stories connect us and your COVID story matters.

PBS NewsHour EXTRA and CoBuild19 invite students, educators and families to share stories through art, digital media or text to contribute to “Hindsight 20/21,” an art project with contributors from across the country that will be an expression of the ways the pandemic has affected individuals and their communities.

We wanted to share a few examples to give you an idea of just how powerful creative storytelling is for students and all of us.

Charlotte Smyth, 15, wrote the following poem at the start of the summer of 2020, when she was 14-years old. She and her father were trying to come to grips with a nation going through great turmoil, her dad Tim Smyth told NewsHour EXTRA.

Charlotte Smyth

You can view the PDF of Charlotte Smyth’s poem here

For me it started in March

Just a whisper on the news.

Such an alien concept that it never worried me.

When I still thought it was easy to defuse,

Then came the lectures,

The concern on my teachers’ faces

The sanitizers all readily collected.

I was riding on the bus when rumors were spread

From student to student about the virus,

That school might be cancelled.

Newborn celebration gradually turned into heavy despair

As two weeks turned into the whole year


And Fall.

Days blurred into distant memories

And terms like “quarantine” and “social distancing” forced their way

Into daily use.

On the television, petrifying headlines of masks and flooded hospitals

Caused chaos and panic.

Protests against racial injustice sound their cries

And families are separated in order to protect.

Yet when there is suffering, humanity overcomes.

Hopeful rainbows shine out of windows, scribbled with love and longing.

We turn to other entertainment, like walks with the whole family

Or lounging by a sunlit creek as water flows over the pebbles.

Instead of staring at screens with yearning,

We’ve written stories, learned about the world around us, and adapted.

Nature has taken this break to evolve and form,

So why shouldn’t we?

The following poem was completed using coffee and blackout techniques. 

A poem using coffee and blackout techniques

“The Best And Worst Of Times: A 12th Grader’s Take On Pandemic Learning,” an essay by Kenna Chase, senior in the graduating class of 2021, at Classical Academy High School in Escondido, Calif.

A Mess We’ll Never Clean,” a poem by Hannah, 10th grade

What it is like to be a student athlete during a pandemic by Nabila Wilson, 10th grade from Houston, TX

If you’d like to find out more about Hindsight 20-21, a creative storytelling project about your experience during the pandemic, click here. Submissions will be compiled and shared in a creative way later in the summer. We will also share details at tonight’s Zoom on how you and your students/children can participate!



More info about Educator Voice zooms:

These are not your typical webinars! These Zooms are a special time for sharing stories, finding support, expressing new ideas and questions around teaching and learning, plus, they are just plain fun. NewsHour EXTRA sees the audience, who plays a very active role during the discussion (not just at the end!) and in the chat, as our guests right alongside our ‘formal’ guests.  So, get ready for some good, honest talk!

Sign up to receive information on future Educator Voice zooms here.


Interested in contributing an Educator Voice blog post or recommending an idea for a Zoom? The Educator Voice blog focuses on how current events affect life for educators and school staff. Please send your idea to Vic Pasquantonio at

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