Every weekend, meteorologist Hayley LaPoint reports to work at Hearst’s WMUR in Manchester New Hampshire to do the weather. But during the week, LaPoint, who is stuck at home like a lot of her viewers, has taken on a second job: virtual weather woman to K-12 students who can’t go to school. Coronavirus took teachers by surprise, she told us, “and they’re just scrambling and looking for content.”
She began less than a month ago with recorded videos posted on the WMUR website, but now she has transitioned to Facebook Live. The kids can find her Monday through Wednesday at 10 a.m. Those videos are attracting as many as 12,000 views.
And the response has been strong. In the beginning, LaPoint offered her email address in order for parents and teachers to get the links to her supporting materials, and “I have had an extremely hard time keeping up with the emails. There’s literally been at least a thousand people that have reached out to me, and it’s people from all over the country too.”
She shares her screen so people can see the presentation along with her. She labels most of her lessons according to what she deems the appropriate grade level. For example, a video that explains what a meteorologist is and what the different weather terms are, such as thunder or lightning, is aimed at students in the first through third grades.
She said that a lot of her 20 to 30-minute presentations have to do with New Hampshire’s weather, so she was pleasantly surprised to see parents and teachers from as far away as Alaska show interest.
Teaching children about the weather isn’t new for LaPoint. Before the pandemic, she used to visit schools and give similar presentations. “I think last school year I did over a hundred of them across the state of New Hampshire,” LaPoint said.
Even though teaching school children was always considered part of LaPoint’s duties, “I’m putting a lot more time into my job right now just because of the demand. And I also feel a little bit of a personal responsibility to get it moving quickly.”
And LaPoint is by no means the only TV meteorologist taking on extra teaching duties. She sees Facebook groups of colleagues around the country who are working from home and told us that “a lot of other people are doing these types of outreach too,”
Lucy Bergemann, a meteorologist from Gray’s Colorado Springs KKTV, whom the Knight-Cronkite News Lab wrote about here, has started teaching weather to Colorado students and anyone else who wishes to tune in on her Facebook page.
LaPoint plans to continue her Facebook Lives “indefinitely.”
“There’s been a huge need for online content for children,” LaPoint said. “And that’s where everybody is right now because we’re all stuck in our houses.”
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