Patrick Henry High School teachers use puppets to teach English

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 8:56 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Few things in the year 2020 can be considered normal.

“I have 105 hobbies. And this is at least five of them, and I don’t normally get to do that at work,” said 9th grade English teacher, Benton Spiker.

Throw normalcy out the window, and you have Henry Czaikoski’s 9th grade English classroom. Czaikoski, his wife Bryttanye, and Spiker all work together to use puppets to recreate the ancient Greek poem, “The Odyssey.”

The setup is much more than modest, though most of the props are homemade, including a green screen, which is currently a green colored sheet of paper.

“I’m waiting for a time when I can’t keep up with this and also the actual job that they pay me for,” said Spiker.

The scenes are mostly filmed during planning, lunch and after school.

“I can’t just put something in front of them, tell them to read it off a laptop at home, and expect anything.”

Once the scenes are recorded, they go on YouTube; students watch and are tested on the material.

So far test grades are up. Most recently, the teachers received a Blue Eagle grant worth $410. They plan to use that money for a proper green screen, more lighting and light stands.

There are plans to continue, even after 9th grade finishes “The Odyssey.” Some kids have even told Mr. Spiker they want to make their own puppets.

And that’s exactly what this group is going for. They’re doing it so the kids aren’t just learning the material, but enjoying the process.

Along the way, they’re proving good things can come from an abnormal year.

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