A few days after Worthington Schools buildings were closed in mid-March because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, teacher Rob Smith was itching to provide some dynamic online content for students.
Smith consulted with Holly Antonelli, a fellow teacher at Liberty Elementary School, on an idea: show students how to create and maintain a garden, from preparing a bed to harvesting.
Antonelli, who lives on Clan Court, was sold. She has been growing vegetables and herbs since she was a child, and she already had a garden.
"Rob and I have been talking about doing some gardening with kids for a couple of years," she said.
The plan for Wotown Backyard Gardens had taken root.
Antonelli and Smith have produced three Wotown Backyard Gardens gardening videos that were posted on YouTube and the school's Facebook page.
The first one advised on where to place a garden and how to prepare the soil, and the second explained what to do when the plants emerge. The third video highlighted such trials as frost and weeding.
Rebecca Reedy, whose son, Joey, is in Antonelli's fourth-grade class, and other son, Levi, is in second grade at Liberty, said the instructional videos are helpful.
"It's been really informative, and it's helped us in getting our own garden ready for the first time," Reedy said.
Smith, a physical-education teacher, and Antonelli do the work in their spare time. That way it didn't interfere with their online classes during remote learning.
The last student day in Worthington Schools buildings was March 13, one day after Gov. Mike DeWine's executive order to close school buildings for at least three weeks because of the pandemic. On April 20, DeWine extended the closure to the remainder of the academic year.
The garden at Antonelli's house, where the videos are filmed, includes lettuce, carrots, beets, peas, kale and spinach, as well as a variety of herbs.
Antonelli said she cans and stores what she doesn't use.
"This is just completely for fun," she said. "It's them spending time with their families because even the littlest kid has a place."
Smith said the videos would continue through summer and beyond.
"I love it," he said. "I'm having so much fun -- fun finding out what the students are learning. I feel like I'm learning with them. That's part of the joy of teaching."