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Durand teacher brings positivity to her students’ front yards

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DURAND (WREX) — It's the season of the yard sign.

Front yards across the country are peppered with words of congratulations and good luck for students moving on to the next steps of their education journey.

However, in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more signs for more than just graduation.

Words of encouragement.

Positive affirmation.

Reassurance kids are not being forgotten during this difficult time.

Much of this support is coming from teachers wanting to still connect with their students.

Ashlee Dietmeier is an example of one of those educators.

"I was inspired by some other first graders teachers I saw all around the country that were making these signs and I had the ability to make one so I thought why not," Dietmeier said.

Dietmeier is a first grade teacher in the Durand School District.

She thought it would be a great way to motivate her kids to finish the school year strong while stuck at home.

Her handmade sign made its way to every kid in her class, staying in one yard for a few days before being moved.

As much as Dietmeier enjoyed being able to celebrate her kids achievements, it meant even more to be able find a way to get closer to her kids in the age of social distancing.

"I know that it's extra special when they can see their teacher, even if it's from a distance. Plus, it gives them that excitement when they don't know it's coming," Dietmeier said.

"My students don't have the ability to be on the computer so we can't meet face to face all the time. That's been the hardest not to see them and have those physical connections."

The sign wasn't the only thing Dietmeier would leave for her kids.

She also puts a hand written note on their door to let them know how much she misses them.

One of the last kids to have the sign stop by was Nevaeh Heatherly.

While she was a little too shy for the camera, her family appreciated having someone who cared so much about her to come check in.

"Being stuck at home is not as much fun as waking up and getting to go to school everyday and see her friends." Nevaeh's mom Jennifer Heatherly said.

"It's really great to see a community teacher really going above and beyond for her students."

Dietmeier see this as a way to check in on parents as well.

Families are working hard to do what they can during the pandemic and she wants to know their efforts are not going unnoticed.

"Many of my parents are still working and I know that and I am understanding of that so doing this little project is the least that I can do to show them that I appreciate and support everything that they are trying to do at home," Dietmeier said.

All of the parents sent pictures to Dietmeier with their kids next to the signs which you can see down below.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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