I would like to nominate Downieville School teacher and Sierra Schools Foundation member, Niecea Freeman, as a local hero during this international health emergency. During the COVID-19 crisis there have been many individuals deserving recognition who have stepped up to help their community, but I would like to focus on one person in our community who has truly gone above and beyond in her service. She has stood up and pushed through the challenges of our current world to both deliver high quality education to her students and support other teachers in the community.
Niecea has endeavored to deliver meaningful, worthwhile education to her students by completely innovating her teaching style with both online and paper distance learning accommodations. She has daily group and individual meetings with her students over Zoom giving them assignments that are both educational and enriching, and continues to create a community of learning and social emotional growth support in an uncertain climate. For instance, the school had scheduled an event called International Day, which had to be canceled due to the outbreak. Not one to lie down during a challenging time, Niecea hosted an online International Day where students presented research about a foreign country and prepared a cultural dish from the same country to share with all community members and stakeholders—bringing people together and inspiring others to learn, even during social distancing.
Every week at Downieville School, Niecea creates paper packets to deliver to students with restricted access to technology and diverse needs for delivery each Monday as the buses and family receive their meal service. One week in particular, Niecea, in response to a local mask shortage, continued to think of her students by delivering masks to each of them with their weekly educational packets (hand sewn by her grandmother). She has also worked with other school and community stakeholders to raise money for the graduating class of 2020, preparing them for an uncertain fall semester away from home at college or in the military during COVID-19.
However, Niecea has not just helped her own students, but she has risen to the occasion through her work with the Sierra Schools Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports teachers and students in Sierra County, which has delivered emergency learning supplies to all students in the county: notebooks, pencils, art supplies, etc. And provides daily and weekly curriculum and learning resources through the Foundation’s social media network to support parents and families who need guidance with the new “home schooling” learning model.
This crisis has created new problems for all of us but with every problem, Niecea has found a creative solution that benefits her students and the community. That is why I would like to nominate her as our local hero.Thank you for your consideration and this opportunity to uplift our local heroes.
Nominator: Patrick Wilson