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Vestal school employee creates over-the-top videos to educate and make students smile

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(WBNG) -- Vestal Hills Elementary speech pathologist, Cathy Willis, misses her students and has been going the extra mile to make sure they feel special.

Cathy Willis was used to doing the morning announcements at Vestal Hills Elementary before schools shutdown due to the pandemic. Now that everyone's not in school, she says she wanted to make them feel special.

What started out as a birthday shout out, quickly turned to a video here and there to her students, Willis then decided to put together educational and entertaining videos out there every week.

From dressing up as works of art like the Mona Lisa to doing magic tricks with her dog, Willis says her daughter helped her make the pieces to give her students something to look forward to, saying, "I like to jump in 100 percent… I act like a fool [in videos] and I love it!"

Some students at Vestal Hills Elementary, like Natalie Purdy who is in the fourth grade, say it's a lot of fun to learn about the topics she's covering. Natalie's mother, Miriam, says parents love seeing them, too.

"I think parents and teachers have something in common right now, which is that we're really being challenged to do things differently," said Miriam. "So, when we see teachers reaching out in a very different way like this, it's not just academic, but it's something that's giving the kids hope and that things are okay."

Willis says after 21 years working at the school where both she and her children attended, she just wants to make the kids happy.

"If I can make them laugh, or make the parents laugh, and maybe break the tension, then I feel like my job is done," said Willis.

You can check some of Willis's videos out on YouTube here.

Anne Sparaco

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