Hampton teacher filling classroom with photo cutouts of students, others

Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 07:00:30-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Students and teachers across Hampton Roads are preparing to start the school year virtually.

That means empty classrooms for a lot of teachers across our area.

Mark Mingee has taught for nearly 20 years. The history and government teacher at Kecoughtan High School believes the start of the new school year brings new challenges and opportunities.

But due to COVID-19, he and others are getting ready for a virtual start.

“Now it's a little bit different because you're looking around and going, ‘Hey, they're not going to be filled,'” Mingee said. “I'm going to be looking at a screen to see their faces, as opposed to seeing them right in front of me.”

But he's making his classroom a little fuller. He created a fundraiser where people can donate to a scholarship fund and have their picture shown on a desk.

Mingee told News 3 the idea came from being an avid sports fan.

“You started to see these images on screens various places, or in the transition of cardboard cutouts of people in the stands,” he said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Hey, if I'm going to be in my classroom, and I want there to be people around me, the best thing to do is try to emulate that in some way.'"

So far, he said many friends, alumni and current students have taken part.

“We're used to, as teachers, having each one of those seats filled. So, as it appears those seats are filled, it makes you feel like a normal, everyday moment in class,” Mingee said. “Anything we can do to encourage these students to keep doing better, that's really what we want.”

He hopes to fill as many seats as possible to help him and his students.

For Mingee, it's all about staying positive.

“You've got to be serious as a teacher, but if you can have a little bit of fun while being serious, all the better,” he said.

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