‘Bedtime Stories with Miss Hunsicker’
Lindsey Hunsicker had the day off last Thursday for the Easter holiday break, but even at 7:30 p.m., the teacher in her wasn’t quite finished working.
Dressed in her latest pajama purchase, navy blue and covered with hearts, the 30-year-old special education and learning support teacher at Clearview ES in Bethlehem was about to go live on Facebook and Instagram.
It was her second official “Bedtime Stories with Miss Hunsicker.”
Even Nala the cat was excited, curling around Hunsicker’s feet in their home office as Hunsicker adjusted her iPhone and laptop camera and microphone settings. Nala knew she might even make a special appearance.
Bedtime storytelling live online is something Hunsicker did for some coworkers’ kids last month, just to share a funny St. Patrick’s Day storybook from her own collection of children’s books.
“I told them about it, and they absolutely loved the idea,” said Hunsicker Thursday. “When it was over, they said, ‘We’re in for the next one!.’”
This could be pretty cool, thought Hunsicker.
Then she thought about her students. Also a certified reading specialist, Hunsicker understands the value of being read to at an early age. Books are a luxury for some families.
“I was envisioning my kids just being able to come on, and have somebody read them a story before bed,” she said. “That was my goal.”
Every student in the district was given a computer in order to learn virtually during COVID shutdowns. Loving children’s books with her whole being, and not being able to read to her kids daily this year, Hunsicker could no longer quell her desire to bring her face to theirs, her voice to their little ears, and the beauty and dreams and imagination that lie on the pages of books, to their screens.
As the clock hit 7:30 Thursday, Hunsicker and loyal feline Nala went live, and the greetings started coming through.
“Hey Sebastian, buddy, I missed seeing you today,” Hunsicker exclaimed, talking back to some students who were tuning in and commenting via their parents’ Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“Hey Kate! Hey Bails! Got my new pjs on, too, buddy! I’m so excited for my story tonight,” shouted Hunsicker. “Hey Fiona; hey Caroline; hey Katie!”
Hunsicker is in her eighth year teaching in the Bethlehem Area School District.
She records the live readings and then uploads them to a YouTube account with the same name, which she created for the project.
In keeping with an Easter theme, last Thursday night’s book was “The Great Eggscape” by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald.
This week’s book focused on Autism Awareness Month, which is in April.
According to autismspeaks.org, the phrase autism spectrum refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
“Besides humor, one thing that I love about kids’ books is that they teach things, like people are different, and it’s OK,” said Hunsicker.
Megan Terry teaches first-grade at James Buchanan ES. Her son, William, is a Clearview student.
“When I saw Lindsey’s post in the Clearview Facebook page, I knew this would be an amazing opportunity for my son,” Terry said. “It has allowed William to hear another voice read to him.
“What makes it even better is that it’s a teacher at his school. He was so excited for the first story, and he even got to see Miss H.’s cat.”
Terry said her son was laughing and had a huge smile on his face the entire time.
“I can’t wait for next week and to see Miss H. at school and tell her that it was so fun,” William Terry said.
Megan Terry describes story time as typical of Clearview’s teachers.
“This special time each week is not only fostering a love of reading,” she said, “but also giving the children a connection to their school community.”
Clearview Principal Heather Bennett-Knerr said she wasn’t surprised to learn of Hunsicker’s endeavor.
“Giving back to other people is a big thing for her; not just the students at our school but to others in the community,” Bennett-Knerr said.
In addition to Nala, a 12-year-old lilac point Siamese, Hunsicker’s other biggest fans, her mom and dad, Linda and Jamie Hunsicker of Bethlehem, also tune in from the comfort of their home a few blocks away.
“Nice job, Lindsey,” Jamie Hunsicker said. “That was a great story.”
“Thanks, Dad,” replied Hunsicker. “Good night, guys.”