Why the Moms Behind the Teachers’ Strikes Inspire Us

How mothers can make a difference, one picket sign at a time.

Why the Moms Behind the Teachers’ Strikes Inspire Us

For nine whole days, teachers in West Virginia, which ranks 48th in the country when it comes to teachers’ pay, traded chalkboards for picket signs, rallying at the state capitol to demand a higher salary to make up for quickly rising healthcare costs. School was cancelled across the state, as the teachers -- many of whom are mothers, with children in the public school system -- refused to leave the capitol until their demands were met.

The move was risky; as many as 67 percent of kids qualify for school lunch in West Virginia, which translates to thousands of hungry children; and with no school, West Virginia’s working parents were left in a childcare bind. But teachers woke up earlier than ever to prepare free meals at churches, and those who weren’t at the capitol rallying for better health coverage and higher wages, were at community centers forming makeshift daycares to look after kids whose parents still had to go to work.


Their rallying paid off. West Virginia leaders ultimately agreed to increase teachers’ salaries and investigate the state’s health insurance program. Emboldened by that success, public school teachers in Oklahoma, who are paid even less than those in West Virginia, will likely strike unless lawmakers approve pay raises by April 2. Teachers in Arizona and Kentucky could follow close behind.

The groundswell of activism is an important reminder of what we can do when we make our voices heard, and how standing up for what’s right is our responsibility as mothers -- to our children, to our communities and to each other.

Here are a few of the courageous teachers -- and mothers -- behind West Virginia’s successful strike.

Name: Brooke Hartman (center)

Teaches: Second Grade

Children: Claire, 4; Colin, 22-months

“I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I worked hard in college to finish my undergrad degree, and I spent the first two years of Claire’s life nursing her through live online graduate classes. It was important for me to fight for my profession because in the area I live in, most women enter the education or medical field. If my kids choose to go into the education field when they grow up, I want to make sure they are valued and know their job is important.”

Name: Brittaney Bailey Adkins

Teaches: Elementary Special Education

Children: Lily, 17; Dakota, 7; Qade, 20-months

“I spent my time during W.Va.’s work stoppage leading cheers to thousands of peaceful protestors and having sincere conversations with any and all who would listen. I pray that when my students, their families and my children look back on this experience, they are proud of me and the activism that took place around the state. I pray that my children will become responsible, active citizens that help change the world and bring back justice to our world. You can be the change you want to see in the world. Be persistent, be kind, and be aware of the injustice and stand up for what you believe in.”

Name: Robin Queen (with her two daughters)

Teaches: Long-term Special Education Substitute

Children: Kayla, 29; Taylor, 26; Casey, 23

“The PEIA issues do affect my family, not just immediate family, but my mother is retired and the changes in policy would be detrimental to her and so many others in my family that chose the education system as their career path. I felt it important to stand beside my daughters, teachers, bus drivers, cooks, and custodians to fight for what is right for all of us... The solidarity was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. I'm proud to have been a part of this history-making event. I'm proud to have stood with my daughters. It was the right thing and I would gladly do it again.”

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

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    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

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    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    A Montessori-inspired gift guide—for newborns to 6-year-olds

    There are plenty of Montessori-friendly toys that are beautiful and engaging, but also appeal to children's developmental needs.

    With so many toys out there, it can be hard to find intentional gifts for our children that are both fun and meaningful. Using a Montessori approach to your shopping doesn't mean your choices need to be academic. There are plenty of Montessori-friendly toys that are beautiful and engaging, but also appeal to children's developmental needs.

    Montessori toys are usually made from natural materials, non-electronic and foster independent play, creativity and concentration. Montessori materials are simple and somewhat minimalist in general, and this is especially true for infants and young toddlers. The world is so stimulating for these little ones already, that simple toys made of natural materials spark the child's curiosity without being overwhelming.

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    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

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