Published: April 21, 2020

Nick Schuster in maskMiddle school teacher Nick Schuster had one day to return to his school to pack up materials to prepare for teaching remotely after his middle school closed its doors during the early days of the COVID-19 outreak. He knew just what he needed to do.

Schuster, a Master’s student in the CU Boulder Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity program and a teacher in Adams 12 Five Star School District, packed up parts of the makerspace at Rocky Top Middle School to create a makeshift makerspace with a 3D printer in his garage and another printer in students' home, where he and his students are making 3D-printed masks for local health care workers. Combined with district efforts, the school teams have donated more than 1,300 mask for local health care workers. Recently, they have focused their efforts on supplying others on the frontlines, such as postal workers and police departments in Thornton. Schuster's network has come out to support him and his class, too. One friend donated $400 toward the cause providing the Thornton Police Department with 150 masks, and another friend, an electrical engineer, helped him fix a malfunctioning circuit board on one of our printers. 

"It's been so amazing to see the community come together to support each other," he said.

As a graduate student and father of two, Schuster is used to the balancing act required to teach middle school while taking graduate courses. He said his Adams 12 graduate student cohort and the faculty and staff in the CU Boulder School of Education's BUENO Center for Multicultural Education formed the support system he needed to get him through challenging times, including the recent impacts of COVID-19 disruptions and remote teaching. Schuster and his cohort are set to graduate this spring, and it's bittersweet to graduate amid commencement ceremony postponemnts and classes that have moved online. He said his professor, Deb Palmer has been amazing at adapting to the new learning environment by "seamlessly bridging us into online learning while keeping us comfortably challenged and learning." Even while he is busy leading his own remote classes and the makerspace project, he finds it uplifting to remain virtually connected with his graduate school classmates. 

"A huge unexpected positive that has come from this change in circumstances has been the support from the Adams 12/BUENO Center master's cohort," he said. "We have all been through this amazing experience together over the last 2 and half years and, in some ways, it feels like we have become a family of sorts. Knowing that I can lean on them for extra support is so important in times like these. I will miss seeing them every week once we graduate."

Watch this video about Nick's project, and learn more about his tech space


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