First Lady Holcomb shares social studies lesson

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Ireland Elementary first-grader Alex Jerger asks First Lady Janet Holcomb a question during a lesson on Zoom on Wednesday.


IRELAND — First-graders in Kelly Shields’ class at Ireland Elementary got a special treat during their e-learning lessons Wednesday.

Indiana’s first lady, Janet Holcomb, joined the class via Zoom to answer questions about what it’s like to be part of leading Indiana and to read “The Piggy in the Puddle” by Charlotte Pomerantz during a call that lasted about half an hour.

“They loved it,” Shields said of her students. “They asked a lot of questions about the first dog, Henry.”

The canine has his own Twitter and Facebook pages.

Shields found out about the opportunity through an email from Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey. Before the call, Shields put together a social studies lesson to teach her students about the Indiana Governor’s Office, what the governor’s job entails and what the first lady does to support the governor. And although the students were curious about Henry, they also had some meatier questions for the first lady.

Alex Jerger of Jasper asked about Holcomb’s favorite part of being first lady.

“She told me she likes traveling and meeting people,” Alex said.

Penny Desser of Jasper got to ask three questions.

“She asked about the virus and why they had to be home from school,” said Natalie, Penny’s mom. “And she asked what [Janet Holcomb] is doing to stop the spread.”

Holcomb assured Penny that she and her family are staying home and social distancing just like everyone else, washing their hands regularly and making sure to follow the recommendations from the governor’s office and state leaders.

Natalie said the virus has been on the minds of Penny and her friends as it has upended their routines.

“We try to talk to her about it and how it’s affecting our lives, which of course she sees every day,” Natalie said.

The call was a positive experience for her students, Shields said, and they all thanked the first lady for spending time with them.

“She was very accommodating to my students,” Shields said. “She took quite a lot of time for questions.”

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