Soon-to-be Double Bear Elizabeth Copelan is making a difference in the Macon community through her efforts in spreading positivity, one card at a time.
Copelan, a Tift College of Education alumna and current master’s degree student, began teaching 3K at First Presbyterian Day School in fall 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a sweeping wave of discouragement for many, notably health care workers.
However, an opportunity to make a positive difference arose when a parent of one of Copelan’s students approached the teacher to share her experience as a doctor at Coliseum Northside Hospital, now Piedmont Macon North.
“She came up to me and said, ‘Honestly, people are struggling. Is there anything we can do to make their days brighter?’” Copelan recalled. “We decided to make cards. I just sent them home with that student, and her mom passed them out at the hospital. Since then, it’s kind of taken off.”
As an educator, Copelan desired to acknowledge the work being done by health care workers in the midst of a troubling time for both professions.
“In a way, we’re both essential workers, and people in our professions feel not as appreciated as they should and undervalued,” Copelan said. “They’re thankless jobs, but I don’t think they have to be — they shouldn’t be.”
The card writing project, featured by Macon TV station 41NBC, was an overwhelming success, as many health care workers were thrilled with delight and cheer from the children’s heartfelt messages. This prompted Copelan to continue the tradition once again this school year with additional components like posters and a video.
“A lot of our parents are nurses or doctors at local hospitals, and when they would come through the carpool line to pick up their child, they would say, ‘By the way, thank you so much,’” Copelan said. “They’ve been super receptive and happy to get the cards, and they say it makes them feel loved and appreciated.”
The project also allowed Copelan to broadcast the mission of First Presbyterian Day School, equipping students to change the world for God’s glory.
“I think this was one way of doing that. I mean, we hit rock bottom during the global pandemic,” Copelan said. “But this was a way to amplify the message that the Lord is there for you, and that’s really comforting.”
Copelan cites her Mercer experience as beneficial in encouraging her to give back through her passion for education and local service.
“I think Mercer played a huge role in the idea that community and school should run hand in hand,” Copelan said. “I was able to do a few projects at Mercer and learned that it’s not just the individual. We’re all working together to support each other.”
Dr. Jay Feng, professor of education and director of the M.Ed. program in Tift College of Education, describes Copelan as a compassionate and caring teacher who is passionate about the work she does.
“She’s always looking for better ways to meet the needs of her students,” Dr. Feng said. “We really do the best to train our teachers to be leaders and advocates for children, and she’s doing just that. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her in the M.Ed. program, and she’s an outstanding student who does very good work in my graduate class.”
Copelan is continually driven by the unified force of community and wants to relay that message to her students and those around her.
“I wanted to let my students know that they are not too young or too small to make an impact that can help others,” Copelan said. “At Mercer, everyone majors in changing the world. My community is my world, and that’s where I have to start — my community.”