Colorado Springs teacher maps out connection to students, makes personalized masks

Digital Now

COLORADO SPRINGS — Melissa Johnson isn’t a seamstress.

“I was using my mother-in-law’s sewing machine that hasn’t been used in 10 years at least,” Johnson said. 

She’s a social studies teacher at Coronado High School sewing face masks. 

“It was a labor of love, I love them a lot,” Johnson said. 

Johnson had initially planned to make Cinco de Mayo themed goodie bags for her AP students to mark the day they would be taking a test.

However, when the coronavirus pandemic broke out tests were rescheduled and classes moved online.

“It’s great when you get to see them on Webex or Zoom meetings or whatever. And you take your little screenshots and think, ‘Oh, there’s my kids’ but it’s not the same. It’s hard,” Johnson said. 

Instead of goodie bags, Johnson decided to sew 29 face masks.

“I just thought that was the most thoughtful thing ever, that we’re all going through this. She’s the kind of person who puts together goodie bags for every holiday. And we celebrate in class, but it always has to do with geography because geography is everywhere,” said Amelia Echols, a freshman at CHS.

It was something Johnson, had to remember when she couldn’t find material with a map print. 

“I’m always telling them geography is everywhere and so, I found the farmer’s mask material at Joanne’s and they were great. And then I found Stars and Stripes so that we could do political geography so, I thought, ‘okay, we can still make it work,'” Johnson said. 

“The fabric had to come from somewhere right? So, you could put geography in like, ‘oh, this fabric came from Bangladesh or whenever,'” said Byron Sharman, a freshman CHS. 

“Mine’s farmer’s markets. That has a lot to do with agriculture,” Echols said. 

Johnson says it’s just a way to connect with her students when many people are feeling a bit lost.  

“I told them in my little note to them that I thought a lot about what we had learned this year and supply chains, and the industrial revolution, and agriculture, and where crops are grown,” Johnson said. 

“That’s just like, the spirit of Coronado, you know. Like, we care about who you are as a person, and how you can improve, and work areas you need to work on. She just how to be successful later. I think that’s where Ms. Johnson is really going with this, helping us succeed in later life by giving us an example of how we should be acting,” Sharman said. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Digital Now stories

More Digital Now