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Mesquite ISD teacher gives out 800 stickers a week to connect with students during pandemic

Michelle Griffin started handing out stickers as a way to connect during COVID

MESQUITE, Texas — Mesquite Horn High School speech and communications teacher Michelle Griffin had a strong relationship with her students. Emphasis on had.

When the pandemic began and physical touch went against health protocols, she had to pivot in her ways to interact with students.

“It rocked my world,” Griffin said. “I was like, ‘what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?’”

It used to be that every day, as her students left class, Mrs. Griffin would give them either a high five, hug or handshake.

She says that small gesture was a big deal.

“You just get to make connections with kids and they don’t get that at home sometimes and that may be the only hug that they get that week,” Griffin said.

Unfortunately, that kind of connection was cut off by COVID. Between virtual learning and so much time apart, Mrs. Griffin felt distant.

When students finally returned to the classroom she was determined to rebuild that bond.

She searched for a solution and found it in her supply cabinet.

“I was like, ‘ok, I’ll hand out stickers on Friday,’” Griffin said. “I thought it was gonna be like, ‘ok, crazy lady is giving stickers out.’”

It was crazy just how so many students wanted stickers. Mrs. Griffin now gives out more than 800 stickers every week.

She calls it sticker Friday.

A lot of kids collect them, but students say what they’re really holding on to is more than a sticker.

“You can’t even explain it,” said senior Alyssa Cardona. “It’s a little bit of joy that helps your day.”

“It makes me feel wanted,” junior Shanerica Henderson said.

“It’s like, ‘I don’t know you but you’re giving me something that’s telling me I’m a good person or I look good today or I’m doing great today,’” said senior Nyla Alonso. “So that feels good to you.”

Mrs. Griffin believes the stickers are teaching them something.

“That there are still some kind people out in the world and small gestures can make a huge difference,” Griffin said.

That’s a lesson she hopes will stick.

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