Kevin the guinea pig helps DC students read and write during distance learning

Kevin the guinea pig has been a part of Christina Huether-Burns’ kindergarten classes at Eagle Academy Public Charter School in Congress Heights for the last five years.

Guinea pig and school supplies on table.
After schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, students missed Kevin, and Huether-Burns saw an opportunity.

Every time the class meets over a Zoom call, Huether-Burns asks if any students have received a postcard from Kevin.

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Guinea pig and school supplies on table.
Most kids are missing their friends and teachers while they are stuck at home, but one kindergarten class in Southeast D.C. is missing another special friend.

His name is Kevin the guinea pig, and he has been a part of Christina Huether-Burns’ kindergarten classes at Eagle Academy Public Charter School in Congress Heights for the last five years.

“We try to incorporate as much as possible in the classroom or at school. The kids like to read to him, so either sit in front of his cage and read to him or sometimes I will take him out on the carpet and the kids can sit on the carpet and read to him,” Huether-Burns told WTOP.

But after schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, students missed Kevin, and Huether-Burns saw an opportunity.

“I had one of my former students who is in first grade reach out to me through his mom, and he wanted to know how Kevin was doing,” said Huether-Burns.

“I asked him, ‘Hey, would you like to be Kevin’s pen pal and you can write back-and-forth to him?’ and he loved the idea and that’s how we started our postcard project.”

She then started encouraging other students to adopt Kevin as their writing partner.

Every time the class meets over a Zoom call, Huether-Burns asks if any students have received a postcard from Kevin and if they would like to schedule a private call so she and Kevin can help them write a postcard back.

The postcards range in subject, with a popular topic being favorite food; Kevin’s favorite is reportedly parsley.

And while Kevin is making the most of distance learning, he and Huether-Burns can’t wait to get back in the classroom.

“I certainly miss all of my students and not being able to see them every day,” Huether-Burns said.

“It’s very difficult, but I think we’ve tried hard as a school to make sure that we’re reaching out to our parents as much as possible and communicating and it’s really all about the relationship that you built before we left school.”


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