"It’s really exciting to see an idea go from sort of joking about t-shirts to saying, 'Hey, we've actually got a product that we could sell,' and that we really believe there's community support out there for the CMS Foundation and, in particular, Wi-Fi for students, because that was one of the main problems in the spring."
The four of us had been in contact over social media and just messaging and really trying to troubleshoot and come up with ideas all summer long. Just trying to think about what went poorly in the spring of last year and what could be done about it. So not just griping, but really trying to think of ways to problem solve. And I think the four of us are really action-driven and we realized pretty early on that the four of us were a good group of people because we wanted to focus on solutions. I'm an art teacher and I know how to do screen printing, and we've got wordsmiths, we have networkers, we have people with connections. We all brought different things to the table. It’s really exciting to see an idea go from sort of joking about t-shirts to saying, “Hey, we've actually got a product that we could sell,” and that we really believe there's community support out there for the CMS Foundation and, in particular, Wi-Fi for students, because that was one of the main problems in the spring. Just getting in contact with students over the internet, which honestly was eye-opening for me.
Right at the start of school, there was so much talk about how do we get kids back to school? How do we make sure they're learning? How do we get back into buildings? And one of the big stumbling blocks that we kept hearing about was Wi-Fi access. I appreciated being with this group of people who were looking at it like, “Okay, well, Wi-Fi access is the barrier. Who's bridging that gap? Who's fixing that? And how can we help them?” And I think that was where this all came together.
We are all advocates and we all serve in different types of schools. We knew that deals for free internet services were ending so we had to figure out how can we fill this gap? On Wednesdays, it’s wear “Red for Ed,” so we knew that this could also give us visibility as a Red for Ed team and people will know that we support public education. “Virtually Unstoppable” became wordplay because of Wi-Fi and because as advocates, we’re always going to do what it takes to get things done for our kids.
I think that the biggest challenge of this past year has been the isolation and feeling disconnected from other people. And I think that the bright spot for me has been the things that we did and the moments where we've been able to break through that in unique and maybe unexpected ways. With Amanda and Rae and Erin, I feel like the four of us have grown really close to each other. And we talk pretty much every day. We spent weekends sitting in lawn chairs at Freedom Park, waiting for people to drive by and stop for their shirt, with a mask on, just shooting the breeze about what it's like to be a CMS employee and to be going through this weird life experience.
- Erin, Rae, Justin & Amanda