Masked up, in front of a computer screen, and in the midst of a worldwide pandemic – that’s not how Colleen Roden envisioned her student teaching practicum would look during her final semester of college. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that change happens – whether we’re ready or not.
Just as Roden, 21, was finishing up classwork for her elementary and special education degree this spring, college and school systems across the country turned off the lights, send everyone home, and left parents, teachers, and frightened schoolchildren alike all wondering the same thing: What happens next?
While many 21-year-olds spent months of quarantine on their parent’s couch surfing TikTok videos, eating pizza, and playing video games, Roden opted to use that time writing a book to help young children not only accept change but perhaps even embrace it.
Then she raised money (and spent a good bit of her own) so she could give the book away to educators and families and include pre-crafted lesson plans to make it easy for others trying to help students navigate uncertainties in their life, whether it’s the pandemic or a new sibling.
Blueberry Pancakes tells the story of a happy-go-lucky dog named Pancake whose whole world is turned upside down when his human family decides to bring home a new puppy, Blueberry.
From sharing his family’s attention to sharing his chew toys and doggy bed, Pancake struggles with the rapid onset of change in his life, and the reader follows along as the humans and the dogs learn to adapt, handle new emotions, and appreciate the blessings we often take for granted.
That’s a skill set that everyone could use a little help with these days.
“My own personal life has changed greatly due to the pandemic, including moving to a new city and changing jobs,” says Roden
Despite those challenges, she’s taken it upon herself to spread this helpful message to schools, families, and students around the country.
So far this year, she’s donated over 1,000 books.
“I am dedicated to providing resources to students everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic status, to ensure that all children have access to an equal education,” she explains.
For families or educators who could benefit from a gift, the free Ebook, lesson plans, a coloring book, and physical copies are available on her website, ColleenRoden.com.