READING, Pa. - Heather West greeted her Lower Macungie Middle School art students on Wednesday morning with massive paintings hanging behind her, a not-so-typical classroom setting, but this school year is far from typical.
"I've been looking at different ways that I can engage them while they're home," said West, an art teacher at the middle school in the East Penn School District in Lehigh County.
So, she came up with "Where's West Wednesdays," teaching from a different location every Wednesday. This week took her to the Reading Public Museum in Berks County.
"I can see a difference," West said. "They're really, really excited."
Using her laptop, West walked her students around the museum, showing them different pieces and exhibits.
"While I'm going through the museum, they're literally asking me questions like, 'Wait, what was behind you?' or, 'Go over there,'" West shared.
She said she's trying to spin the pandemic into a unique and positive experience for herself and her students.
"It's kind of neat to think, 'OK, I can't do this, but what can I do that I was never able to do before?'" West said.
And she encourages other teachers to do the same.
"It's very hard," West said. "I think that the mentality of teachers has to change right now."
Through the power of technology, creativity and community resources like the Reading Public Museum, West said her weekly field trips will make this already unforgettable school year one for the books for students.
"I know that they're not here, but they do really feel like they're here with me, and they have a say in what they get to see and what they get to learn," she said.