(October 18, 2021) Virgil I. Grissom School No. 7 teacher Derinda McKinstry was selected as one of 20 winners of the 2021 Staples Thank A Teacher contest. Ms. McKinstry was awarded $5,000 in Staples gift cards for School No. 7 and $2,000 for personal use after a challenging year.
For a year and a half, Ms. McKinstry taught her three-year-old students remotely. Throughout that time, she found ways to keep children and families connected and engaged in playful learning. She provided weekly learning bags to her students, with manipulatives, supplies, hardcover books, and lessons, which she hand delivered to students’ homes. Students and their families not only enjoyed her visits, but they also appreciated having access to books, toys, and activities at home. Early in the pandemic, Ms. McKinstry created a video with her puppet Dorilla to help young students become comfortable wearing a mask and talking to an adult wearing a mask. The video went viral and is used by teachers of three- and four-year-old children. Ms. McKinstry is an inspiration, working tirelessly to go above and beyond for her students and their families.
The Staples Thank A Teacher contest was designed to give parents, students, and supporters a platform to recognize outstanding teachers who have made a positive impact on the lives of students. From extra hours to supply drop-offs and outside-of-the-box lesson plans, the 2021 winning educators have helped their students adapt to change and thrive in a challenging environment.