Keeping Lamar students, teachers safe is “all in the family”

For Sandi Lynch, keeping teachers and students safe during the pandemic is deeply personal. She has a niece who teaches at Lamar Elementary in Denison and a daughter-in-law who teaches at Bells. She is also an ardent supporter of public education. Fortunately for all, she and her husband have a unique set of skills that has allowed them to turn student desks into save havens for learning.

“When I was first approached by my niece, Ashley Smith, first grade teacher at Lamar Elementary, about my ideas on making dividers for her classroom tables, we initially talked about a “PVC and shower curtain” setup that we had seen on social media,” said Lynch. “Ashley was concerned with their durability and the ability to keep them clean. Having several educators in our family, I worried a lot about the kids and teachers going back into the classroom. I wanted to help do something to ease the concerns of the parents and teachers, and hopefully help keep the children safer at the same time.”

Lynch and her husband ultimately turned their thoughts toward a creation they thought would provide a new and safer model of desk dividers. “I started thinking about the decorative framed wood signs that my husband and I make as a hobby, and those thoughts sparked an idea which we tossed around until finally coming up with a plan we thought would work. In the end, we created a sturdy desk divider product that is durable, functional, can be easily cleaned, and looks nice too.”

Lynch said she and her husband were excited to be able to share the dividers with not only Mrs. Smith’s class at Lamar, but also their daughter-in-law’s first grade class at Bells ISD. “After seeing them in our daughter-in-law’s classroom, Bells ISD ended up purchasing them for their entire elementary school. There was definitely a lot of work involved in this project, but we feel really good about our contribution to the health and safety of our local students and teachers.”

After more than a month of teaching and learning in Smith’s Lamar classroom, Ashley says the desk dividers are as sturdy and clean as ever. “My aunt and uncle are just two amazing, caring people who want me to be able to teach, and my kids to learn, in an environment that is safe, secure and conducive to learning. This works perfectly, and we are all just so very grateful to be the lucky recipients of their creativity and generosity. Needless to say, I love them dearly!”



Lamar elementary teacher Ashley Smith practices social distancing while helping one of her students with a classroom writing exercise.



Desk dividers in Lamar teacher Ashley Smith’s kindergarten classroom provide ample room for books, work assignments and supplies while also keeping students safe. “In the end, we created a sturdy desk divider product that is durable, functional, can be easily cleaned, and looks nice too,” said Ashley’s aunt, Sandi Lynch, who partnered with her husband to design and build the dividers.



Ashley Smith’s Lamar kindergarteners worked behind desk dividers designed and built by their teacher’s aunt and uncle. “My aunt and uncle are just two amazing, caring people who want me to be able to teach, and my kids to learn, in an environment that is safe, secure and conducive to learning. This works perfectly, and we are all just so very grateful to be the lucky recipients of their creativity and generosity.”



Protective partitions, masks and social distancing may keep teachers and classmates safely separated, but the smiling eyes of Hyde Park teacher Pam Bellermann and her students provide evidence that everyone is still connected and thriving.“Our teachers and students have done a tremendous job of adapting to this year’s new normal,” said Dr. Henry Scott, DISD Superintendent. “They’re meeting and exceeding the challenges…creating and maintaining successful learning environments that meet the academic and personal needs of all our students.”



Students throughout the district stay focused and engaged in daily learning, including these in Shannon Rosa’s classroom at Hyde Park Elementary where virtual classmates actively participate in class activities via Zoom and SMART Boards.

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