Legassie’s niece and nephew Charlotte and Harrison Craig participating in a virtual field trip with her earlier this year. (Courtesy of Hayley Legassie/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Legassie’s niece and nephew Charlotte and Harrison Craig participating in a virtual field trip with her earlier this year. (Courtesy of Hayley Legassie/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Teacher turned passion into hundreds of virtual field trips

Hayley Legassie connected local kids with history and science during school closures

When the pandemic struck, Fort Langley teacher Hayley Legassie was already at home with her two kids, four-year-old Lochlan and seven-year-old Lexi.

She had been on leave from her job at Fort Langley Elementary for almost two years after she’d suffered a concussion that had impacted her ability to be in a classroom.

But when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March and it became clear schools would not be going back to normal any time soon, Legassie started to think about what kids were experiencing.

“All of the things they enjoy were being ripped away from them,” she said.

She started to think that there had to be a way to replace some of what was being lost.

“How can we continue to fill kids with wonder and joy while being stuck at home?” she said.

She decided to create a website that could give kids “virtual field trips,” live streaming events that kids could watch to get interesting and educational experiences while they were cooped up at home – and to give their parents a useful resource.

It became learnfortlangley.com, and over the course of the spring it grew faster and reached farther than Legassie had ever imagined.

Eventually kids could see hippos fed at the zoo, connect with astronomers in Vancouver, and learn about local history.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo was the first partner to jump on board.

“I told them they can use me as a pilot project,” Legassie said.

Soon she was connecting with multiple museums, park sites, and educational centres.

The Fort Langley National Historic Site, the Langley Centennial Museum, the Fraser Valley Regional Library, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, the Kwantlen First Nation, the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, and the Vancouver Aquarium, among others, all came on board.

Librarians hosted virtual storytimes, historians talked with kids about what life was like in pioneer days, and zookeepers introduced children to animals.

For those watching, the speed with which Legassie created the programs was impressive.

Most museums didn’t have online learning programs operated through Zoom or similar programs, said Shannon Macelli, who was working at the Langley Centennial Museum in the spring.

From the time Legassie first got in touch with the museum to two weeks later, Legassie had created a website, a Facebook group, and started online lessons, Macelli said.

With no funding, she had launched the program in about 10 days.

“It blew my mind,” said Macelli.

Legassie’s schedule was suddenly full – despite the fact that she was still also trying to keep educating her own two children.

“She would host every single session,” said Macelli.

Legassie set up up to 10 live, free education sessions every week, about 10 to 15 hours of online video sessions.

“The work that she did, it was a gift to the community,” Macelli said.

“It was definitely a full time job,” Legassie admits.

But it was fulfilling.

After almost two years away from the classroom, she found that the things about her concussion that made working in a classroom difficult didn’t affect her when she was working online and setting up the Zoom sessions.

“It was a lot of work, but I loved it,” Legassie said.

It also grew geographically.

Legassie had intended it to be a resource for kids and families in and around Fort Langley, or Langley and the Lower Mainland at the most.

But families from all over B.C. and even parts of the United States heard of it through the grapevine and joined in.

Last week, a family from Ontario and one from Virginia were taking part, she noted.

Learn Fort Langley wound down for the most part through the summer. As schools resumed operation, there was less need for live Zoom events during the day.

There are still sessions being offered, though fewer than in the spring, when it was a lifeline for local parents.

Now that she’s scaled back, Legassie is looking at turning the new skills she’s developed into a new career path.

She’s created Joyful Learning, a not-for-profit website that also hosts virtual field trips and parent support for parents who are homeschooling – including those who didn’t expect to be homeschooling this year.

MORE EDUCATION HEROES

• Coach Chris Veale backs his players

• Langley teacher finds new ways to keep the music playing during COVID

CoronavirusEducationLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cargo container was knocked off a truck trying to pass under the Glover Road overpass in 2018. Crews will be working on the overpass Monday, April 12 in the evening and one eastbound lane will be temporarily closed. (Langley Advance Times files)
Highway slowdown expected Monday night in Langley for overpass work

The Glover Road overpass is getting some work done

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
Langley schools exposure list grows with latest COVID cases

As of Monday there were 14 schools on Fraser Health’s list

People have been leaving Post-It note messages for staff at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the Langley Events Centre. (Fraser Health Tweet)
LETTER: Langley resident lauds LEC vaccination clinic staff

Local couple impressed with everyone they encountered at the clinic set up in the local hockey arena

LETTER: Langley resident urges patience for all awaiting vaccination

Letter writer also encourages people to show their gratitude to hardworking front-line health staff

Well Seasoned gourmet food store owner Angie Quaale bought and distributed $500 worth of gift cards to a local restaurant last week, after Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the “circuit breaker” shut down of indoor seating at the end of last month. She’s hoping it will spark more people to help local restaurant and pub operators. She’s doing another giveaway starting Monday night. (Jeff Vinnick/Special to Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Gift card purchases aim to boost sales for struggling Langley restaurants

A Langley business owner tries to support fellow food entrepeneurs hit hard by pandemic restrictions

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read