By Bob Skolnik
School nurse Matt Quintana took the temperatures of kids outside of the Brook Park School in LaGrange Park in during the first week of classes, he noticed that some younger children were afraid of the hand-held thermometer, which looks like a ray gun, being pointed at their foreheads.
So, Quintana turned to Brook Park art teacher Stephanie Skertich, who helps out with arrivals at Brook Park's K-2 door, and told her that he wished they could make the thermometers less scary as students undergo the new requirement of having their temperatures checked before entering the building.
Quintana noticed that that the thermometer he was using was shaped a little bit like an animal, maybe a giraffe. He wondered if Skertich could make his thermometer look even more like an animal and less scary.
Skertich, who is teaching art virtually this year, mentioned the idea to Brook Park K-2 Principal Kelly King, who thought it was a great idea and gave her the go ahead. Skertich then got right to work in her empty art room, using some acrylic paint, pipe cleaners, and yarn and make Quintana's thermometer look like a little giraffe.
The giraffe thermometer was a big hit. The kids loved it and soon the other four Brook Park temperature checkers all wanted their thermometers made into animals, too.
So Skertich made King's thermometer into a dog, 3-5 Principal Mike Sorensen's thermometer into a dragon, fellow school nurse Christine Lebar's thermometer into a tiger and Assistant Principal Jill Johnson's thermometer into a hippopotamus.
"I just kind of use things I find in the art room, that in combination with some paint and some googly eyes and hot glue," Skertich said. "I've had a ton of fun making them all week."
The decorated thermometers have been a big hit with students, too, especially the younger ones, some of whom had been scared by the plain thermometers.
"It's something not as intimidating," Sorensen said. "It makes it into something a bit more fun. It's going to bring a smile to someone's face."
Skertich says that she loves seeing the reaction of the kids to the decorated thermometers.
"They get so excited," Skertich said. "They think it's really fun and they are less scared of it now."
Skertich is happy to be using art to brighten kid's day.
"I'm glad I could make them a little less scary and have the kids start their day on a good foot using art," Skertich said.
Quintana noticed the difference right away.
"Everybody thought it was a great idea," Quintana said. "Definitely the kids are pointing them out, even just walking [by] they're wanting to look at them instead of being afraid of them. The staff thought it was a great idea and the kids are loving it, so the end goal was achieved."