By the time the school year officially ends in late May, a local teacher will have dressed up in 39 different costumes.
Every morning she records a video that is between a one and three minutes long. The good morning video for her students includes some information on who she is dressed up as that day — in case they don’t know — and then she goes into what school work needs to be accomplished that day.
It all started in early April after Spring Break. Cece Craner, who is finishing up her sixth year at Spring Creek Middle School, decided to do something different since schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was already doing a good-morning video and was thinking about how I could make it more interesting now that I’m at home,” Craner said earlier this week. “I just happened to have lots of costumes because I like to do community theater and my family loves to dress up for Halloween.”
So, she started dressing up, beginning with Wonder Woman.
“We were only supposed to be out of school for a couple of weeks at first, so I thought I could dress up for a couple of weeks and that would be fun,” Craner said.
Those two weeks were extended because of COVID-19. The rest of the 2019-20 school year was then relegated to online.
“Luckily, I have enough costumes and have it planned out through the rest of May,” said Craner, who has a room in her Logan house designated for just costumes. “I’m going all the way through. I know I can make it and not have to borrow anything.
“... I have costumes that were actually my grandmother’s clothes and my mom’s. I have all kinds of prom dresses and costumes from being in theater. My mom was in theater too, so we have lots of variety.”
The videos are short because she has learned the attention span of students at that age doesn’t last long. Plus, it takes a while to download them.
Craner has about 100 students in three different subjects. She teaches eighth grade English language arts, seventh and eighth grade choir and seventh and eighth grade English language learners. The videos are for English language arts and English as a second language classes.
“My choir kids don’t know what is going on,” Craner said with a laugh.
The costumes have generated some responses.
“Some will reply and send me email saying, ‘Oh my gosh, that is so cool,’” Craner said. “Sometimes I try and solicit to see if anyone is watching by asking them to let me know. I think the parents like it more.”
There haven’t been any students — yet — who have dressed up and sent her a video, but that is just fine.
“I just feel lucky that they will do their work,” Craner said. “Please just do your work, do your assignments so I know you are OK and I know you are there.”
Craner taught high school in Idaho for seven years before moving to Cache Valley. When she first arrived, she taught elementary for a couple of years, then moved to the middle school in Providence.
With her classroom empty now, teaching from home has been challenging.
“It’s harder than I thought,” Craner said. “It’s easier in that I don’t have the kids interrupting me when I’m trying to teach, but the harder part is not knowing if they are even there, if they are getting it, if they are understanding it. Some of my English language learners students, it took weeks to just get a response to know if they were alive or OK. That was a lot harder on me than I thought it was going to be. ... It’s a strange situation.”
The costumes help her start the day in a fun way. She hopes it also brightens the day or her students. Some of the costumes are pretty elaborate and take a while to get ready.
“I save Fridays for my big make-up or big hair day,” Craner said. “It’s the one day I don’t have a faculty meeting. I usually have meetings in the mornings.”
Some of the costumes have more meaning. For example, there are some her mother sewed. There are also ones from plays she has been in.
“I dressed up like a guy, put a wig on and drew on a mustache,” Craner said. “I’m really wearing my uncle’s groovy shirt from the ’70s. Some are really authentic. When I was Lina Lamont from ‘Singin’ In The Rain,’ I’m wearing my grandma’s mink stole from the 40’s.”
Has she had a favorite so far?
“I knew the KISS one was going to be a good one; lots of people liked that one,” Craner said. “But probably my favorite is when I’m wearing something really authentic like that mink stole of my grandma’s or when I put on make-up like a Hollywood starlet.”
Craner is certainly a star at Spring Creek, whether she dresses up like a princess, a queen, Sasquatch or even Napoleon Dynamite. This week she has been Nacho Libre and a lady dressed up in a flapper dress from the 1920s. The month is young, so there are plenty more to come.