NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Amid new city and county stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Stephen F. Austin State University student teachers are still helping children in the Nacogdoches Independent School District learn.

Student teachers in SFA’s Community Responsiveness and Engaged Advocacy in Teacher Education program, or C.R.E.A.T.E., have planned live activity lessons from 2 to 3 p.m. CDT on Mondays and 10 to 11 a.m. CDT on Wednesdays via Zoom through May 6.

Students and their families can register for these free Zoom sessions at the following links:

Monday sessions:
Wednesday sessions:

Suggested materials will be listed for each activity, and recordings of the sessions will be posted on the Supporters of Nacogdoches ISD Facebook group.

“We know that not all NISD students and families can access online activity lessons, but we wanted to do something to give back to the NISD community that has supported and contributed to the training of our C.R.E.A.T.E. student teachers over the past few semesters,” said Dr. Lauren Burrow, an associate professor in SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education.

The lessons include art activities and science experiments designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and C.R.E.A.T.E. student teachers are working to expand the topics and grade levels.

Though student teachers haven’t been able to practice teach in classrooms because of the pandemic, the online teaching format is providing them with valuable experience.

Paiten Seago, a special education senior from Forney, is one of the student teachers presenting activities during the sessions. After her first online lesson, she said, “Thank you for that opportunity! I really enjoyed it. I realized that this is all for a bigger purpose than me. Seeing students filled my teacher heart up!”
C.R.E.A.T.E. mentor families are showing their appreciation for the student teachers’ efforts through posts on the Facebook group.

"This is so great! Friends, if you’re at home and you’ve hit the wall with your children with home schooling, or you’re looking for some fun structure for your kiddos, this is just what you need to give it a shot in the arm,” said Linda Autrey, a mother of two in a C.R.E.A.T.E. mentor family and director of Advanced Academics for NISD. “Mine had fun doing the activities this morning because there was real interaction from the student teachers and professors.”

The demand for the lessons was already increasing before the city and county of Nacogdoches issued a stay-at-home order, according to Dr. Heather Olson Beal, a professor in the Perkins College of Education who worked with Burrow to launch C.R.E.A.T.E. in 2018.

“Based on the feedback we got during our first week, we really think these lessons are helping families who found themselves thrust into at-home education responsibilities,” Olson Beal said. “Even though the live, interactive sessions offer a chance for students to ask questions directly, we’re also posting the recordings for families with time-related conflicts and for students and educators living in different time zones.”

In addition to local students, teachers and librarians, educators from as far away as Hawaii are viewing the recordings, Burrow said.

Students of all ages are enjoying the online activities, Burrow added.

Linsey Taylor, librarian at Emeline Carpenter Elementary School in Nacogdoches, said, “I have had a great time learning in these classes!”

For more information, join the Facebook group or email