Bergen Arts and Science Charter School teacher Marisa Schussler was cleaning out her Clifton home when she came across a pile of untouched Scholastic books last week.
Two days later, Schussler was in her car delivering the books along with a note to each one of her 50 students' homes spread across Bergen County.
"It’s a scary and uncertain time for them," said Schussler, 27. "I just wanted to bring them a little happiness."
Schussler, in her third year of teaching at the Garfield K-3 school, was given a week's notice to plan for virtual learning on the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
She's been following her district's "iContinue" plan, using Google Classroom as her platform along with weekly Zoom meetings.
Although her students and parents have adjusted well to their new normal, things haven't been the same. And Schussler misses her students dearly.
"The plan was to deliver the books secretly," said Schussler. "I didn't know if I could handle seeing their faces, and I didn't want them to have to fight the urge to hug me or come out and say hi."
And so, she spent a few days choosing the books for her students based on their reading level and personalities, mapping out her delivery route and then packaging the books -- along with handwritten letters.
The content of the letters were the same, but each one was addressed to students individually.
"The kids were spread over nine cities," Schussler said. "It took me two days to make the deliveries -- I want from Passaic to Paterson then Bergenfield and Saddle Brook."
Some of her students caught her in the act. Others found out later when their parents checked the mailbox. Many cried.
“A big shout-out to the best and kindest teacher ever,” said Marisol Suarez, whose daughter Genesis is one of Schussler’s students.
“Miss Schussler made my daughter’s day. She brought me to tears.”
"It was heartwarming," said Schussler, who received photos of her students opening their packages.
"It just makes me look forward to seeing them -- hopefully in August."
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