Houston Chronicle recognizes teachers going above and beyond during pandemic

The Houston Chronicle this week featured one of our members in Spring AFT–Lori Douglas–to profile.


Ringing the bell: Houston-area educators go beyond the classroom during pandemic

Houston Chronicle, Published May 5, 2020

As if there was any doubt before, parents and relatives now know for certain: running a school isn’t easy.

It’s a challenging, exhausting labor of love for thousands of Houston-area educators and support staff — many of whom are working like never before amid the novel coronavirus pandemic to support the region’s million-plus children.

We asked readers and districts to tell us about educators and school support staffers who have gone above and beyond, prompting dozens of responses describing innovative and tireless advocates for children.

While no amount of work can replicate the indelible experience of a humming school building, these school employees are making the best of it, hoping their efforts will carry their kids through the shutdown and beyond:

Lori Douglass, a fifth-grade teacher at Northgate Crossing Elementary School in Spring ISD, left, does an "air elbow" with Nichole Bowman as they prepare to distribute Chromebooks to students for remote learning April 27 at Springwoods Village Middle School in Spring. Photo: Brett Coomer/Staff Photographer / ? 2020 Houston Chronicle

Lori Douglass, a fifth-grade teacher at Northgate Crossing Elementary School in Spring ISD, left, does an “air elbow” with Nichole Bowman as they prepare to distribute Chromebooks to students for remote learning April 27 at Springwoods Village Middle School in Spring.

(Brett Coomer/Staff Photographer | Houston Chronicle)

Lori Douglass, fifth-grade teacher, Northgate Crossing Elementary School in Spring ISD

When Spring ISD first announced in mid-March that in-person classes were canceled, Lori Douglass volunteered to clean, pass out food, answer phones — “anything at all.”

For the past eight weeks, Douglass has lived up to her word.

The 23-year teaching veteran volunteers to distribute Chromebooks whenever needed, shrugging off a broken elbow in mid-April. She routinely drops off lunch and groceries at the home of Margaret Morris, a 70-year-old teacher afflicted with shingles just before the pandemic hit.

Perhaps most importantly, she has traveled to all 21 of her students’ homes, leaving books, coursework packets, headphones and her cell phone number for all-day access at their front doors, offering a wave through the window to her kids. She hosts regular online hangouts with her students, some of whom have taken on added responsibilities for watching younger siblings.

“They’re having a hard time being home,” Douglass said. “I think the key to teaching is relationships, and that’s what I think we’re missing. I just want them to know somebody cares about them and loves them and will follow up on them — not just through this coronavirus, but all the time.”