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Editor, The Beacon:

As a mom, a teacher, and a small business owner, these times are more stressful than any I’ve lived through. 

Each morning I think, What are the effects of the virus and how do I best protect my loved ones?

I search for the best masks; I send my husband off to work wishing him protection while working with the public. But then what I spend most of my time dwelling on is about our community’s youth. How are they handling all this?  In some ways, kids are more resilient than we think. They do still, however, need us.

Last month as the school year came to an end, I found myself worrying about my students’ relationships with one another. In a time of isolation, they were being drawn apart by this virus not only physically, but emotionally. 

What can we, as educators, parents and other loved ones, do for the youth? I serve on a Community Wellness Committee at St. Barnabas Episcopal School, where I teach fourth grade. We discussed creating a toolbox for families throughout this time. So, I set out to create a tool for the kids to use as the new school year approaches.

I wrote a children’s picture book, called “Good-Will: Life in COVID-19 Times.”

The book stars a handsome young elephant named Will. Will, having just experienced a pandemic, feels nervous and apprehensive about going back to school in the fall. He is greeted by a sweet young giraffe teacher that teaches him and his friends about trusting one another’s goodwill. She brings them together by explaining how each family is doing their best and teaches that friendships are the roots of life. 

My message to the kids is that it’s OK to be nervous, but also to feel hopeful. My message to parents and caregivers is to start preparing your kids for school by talking about it. We don’t have the specific details of how many kids will be in each classroom, or who will be required to wear masks. But one thing we must trust is that we will all [ITALICS]  use our own goodwill to keep our community’s youth safe. 

My goal is to get one copy of this book in every Volusia County classroom in kindergarten through fifth grade. You can purchase my book on Amazon for $14.99. If you want to donate a copy to Volusia County Schools, you may order one and drop it at the Athens Theatre for distribution.

Julie Kaidor



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Barb and her husband, Jeff, were both born in Kokomo, Indiana, a factory town surrounded by cornfields about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. In 1979, they set out on a road trip that would define their lives, and would end with their taking up residence in DeLand. After working at the DeLand Sun News and the Orlando Sentinel 1979-92, Barb helped found The Beacon, and was appointed publisher and CEO in 2013. Since late 2004, Barb has also managed Conrad Realty Co.’s historic property in Downtown DeLand, where The Beacon is an anchor tenant.


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