As we navigate this global health crisis together, first responders, nurses, doctors, and their families are working to help those who have fallen ill, while protecting those who have not.

But who’s protecting our protectors?

Hospitals do not have enough gloves, masks, respirators, or other forms of personal protection equipment (PPE). This is a problem that must be solved, and that’s where a group of enterprising New Jersey educators enter the story.

After the first few days of distance learning, teachers in Morris County and surrounding areas realized that their classroom makerspaces lay dormant in their empty schools.

They realized that they had necessary equipment in their classrooms that could be used to manufacture the supplies hospitals and caregivers needed.

They had 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser cutters, and these could be used to help create PPE to be donated to local hospitals and first responders in need.

With support from their districts, teachers from Chatham, Livingston, and Madison transported their equipment to their homes to make remote makerspaces. Then, by innovating and following instructions set by thousands of makers before them, the group started making hundreds of sets of PPE for local hospitals each week.

With further support from their local communities and students, the teachers plan to continue to produce this PPE for as long as their help is needed. So far, they have made donations to hospitals in Newark, Morris County, and Bergen County and their local community’s first responders and medical professionals who were in need of protection.

During this unprecedented time, the NJSBA salutes the teachers who are working to help combat the virus, while also providing their students with more real-world applications for the content and resources they teach every day.

Kudos to the following educators:

Madison Public Schools:
Jason Erdreich (Madison Junior School, K-12 technology engineering & design coordinator)
Matt Garrera (Madison High School)

Livingston Public Schools
Ken Zushma (Heritage Middle School)

School District of the Chathams
Danielle Dagounis (K-12 design & technology supervisor)
Jessica Liatys (Chatham Middle School)
Kyle Kermick (Lafayette School)
Julianna Ryan (Chatham High School)
Jason Mariano (Chatham High School)
Amanda Turton (Milton Avenue School)

Share your stories: If you know of educators and students who are helping others, please send an email to NJSBA Assistant Editor Alan Guenther at