School Counselor Gives Life Lessons On YouTube From Her Kitchen

12 hours ago
Originally published on May 6, 2020 8:19 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's visit the kitchen of an elementary school counselor in Ohio. Her name is Marie Weller, and she has turned to YouTube to help kids stranded away from school during this pandemic. NPR's Cory Turner has been visiting with her.

CORY TURNER, BYLINE: In Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus, she's known as Mrs. Weller. And if I had to describe her in a word, it would be joyful.

MARIE WELLER: (Laughter).

TURNER: Once Ohio closed its schools, Mrs. Weller started going through counseling videos she could share with her kids remotely, but she says many of them were just too...

WELLER: Boring. So I started thinking - well, I'm bored and can't imagine that the kids aren't.

TURNER: And this is the magical moment when Mrs. Weller took her talents to YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE IRISH ROVERS' "WHAT'S COOKING IN THE KITCHEN")

TURNER: Weller set up a smartphone in her kitchen, surrounded herself with puppets - of course she has puppets - and started recording her own videos. They're called Little Life Lessons from Mrs. Weller's Kitchen. She even got permission from folk band The Irish Rovers to use this as her theme song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S COOKING IN THE KITCHEN")

THE IRISH ROVERS: (Singing) What's cooking in the kitchen? Cooking in the kitchen. What's cooking in the kitchen?

TURNER: In school, Weller would begin each counseling lesson with a chime. Now she rings a mixing bowl.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIXING BOWL CHIMING)

TURNER: In one episode, a puppet named Kevin (ph) gets super nervous about his schoolwork - a feeling lots of kids are having now that they're learning remotely.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

WELLER: I don't know about you, but I can totally understand how Kevin was feeling.

TURNER: So she tells the kids to lie on the floor, put a stuffed animal on their tummies and practice deep breathing. In another episode, Mrs. Weller talks about why it's important to be responsible. She's written a bunch of kid responsibilities on the blocks of a Jenga tower.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

WELLER: What happens when people say, I don't feel like feeding the dog?

GREENE: Mrs. Weller pulls a block out of the Jenga tower, that's what.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

WELLER: This is boring.

GREENE: Another block comes out. And then, my personal favorite...

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

WELLER: I'll do it after I go to the bathroom.

TURNER: Yeah, right (laughter). When we don't do our part, she says...

(SOUNDBITE OF BLOCKS FALLING)

TURNER: ...It hurts our community and the people who depend on us. For Mrs. Weller, making these videos is her piece of the Jenga tower, making sure kids know...

WELLER: We care about them, and we miss them, and we can't wait until we are back together again.

TURNER: Until then, Mrs. Weller says she'll be in the kitchen cooking up new videos.

Cory Turner, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S COOKING IN THE KITCHEN")

THE IRISH ROVERS: (Singing) Is it chocolate cake? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.