Adopt a Teacher: parents helping teachers stay safe

June 22, 2021

The stress of spending time to find a vaccine appointment for people with busy schedules, such as teachers, was the reason Lawrence parent and high school alumni, Masha Leuner, created the Adopt a Teacher program.

This program, originally exclusively at the Lawrence School, paired staff members with volunteer parents willing to help their assigned staff member book vaccination appointments.

Leuner’s experience booking vaccine appointments for her parents had a huge impact on her. Leuner said the time commitment necessary for getting a slot, even staying up until midnight one night to secure the appointment.

“I was making appointments for my parents, and I realized that it was very time consuming, and I realized that you would be sitting at the computer for hours just to get an appointment because the demand far outstretched the supply,” Leuner said.

After her less-than-ideal experience booking appointments for her parents, Leuner got the idea for her program.

“I realized that, ‘Oh my god, the teachers are going to have a crazy hard time doing this!’ because when they’re in a classroom, they can’t sit in front of a screen, and they don’t have all that much free time,” Leuner said. “It seemed like an unfair expectation to place on teachers who are already working really hard, and I wanted to find a way to help them.”

The program started the first week of March, coincidentally the same week that President Biden gave a press conference stating that teachers would be put at the top of the list for vaccines. This announcement blew up the program, which grew enormously overnight.

“Once he announced that press conference, CVS decided that it would open availability for teachers. By the end of our first week, our volunteers were able to book about 60 slots, just at Lawrence,” Leuner said.

The program’s success impacted those directly involved and the atmosphere of the community.

“I think teachers were feeling anxious about COVID-19, and they were feeling underappreciated by the parent community, and this one project brought everyone together in the most wonderful way possible,” Leuner said. “Teachers realized the parents were stepping out and showing solidarity and being supportive with the purest of hearts.”

After the Adopt a Teacher program’s triumph at Lawrence, the other public schools implemented the same system at their school, where it was just as successful.

Vice Principle of the Pierce School, Jamie Yadoff, oversaw the performance of the program as it was implemented at her own school.

“It was completely effective in the sense that everybody who wanted an appointment got one within a few days,” Yadoff said.

Yadoff also noted the same positive impact on her colleagues at Pierce that Leuner noticed at Lawrence.

“All of the teachers that approached me about it were very grateful and felt very relieved because obviously they’re busy teaching all day, so they can’t be clicking refresh on the page, waiting for an appointment to pop up,” Yadoff said. “Having that burden taken off their plate was very reassuring for people.”

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