Never fear, the teachers are here

August 13, 2020


Fairhope K-1 Center - Leslie Anne Tarabella for

The first day of this stressful new school year brought reports of crying, hiding beneath the desks and stress induced “accidents” — and that was just the teachers. 

Public, private, virtual or homeschool? What is best? The answer is; it’s all good in different ways for different children and families.

Teachers also have the right to choose what is best for them. Should they return to the classroom? Retire? Take a virtual teaching job? Start selling real estate with cousin Tiffany? It’s a maddening world of choices. I don’t think any of us blame them if they want to stay home and yet, we’d burst into tears of joy if we saw them once again waving to us from the carpool line. 

The educators who make the decision to buck up, mask-up and show-up are going to make our lives recognizable again. Healthcare workers and first responders were the initial wave of bold citizens who risked their lives to help during the COVID-19 crisis, and now, it’s the teachers, school secretaries, lunchroom staff, maintenance team and school bus drivers who will take a turn as America’s anchor in the storm. 

There will be days when classroom teachers will have to turn their backs to the students to hide their faces while they catch their breath and blink back a tear.  Those who homeschool may have to play a second round of, “Mommy’s locked in the bathroom,” But the calling and passion to educate, love and nurture young minds will win every time. Even in a pandemic. 

Hazardous contaminants aren’t exclusive to the medical profession. When I taught in Pensacola, I had a child throw up in my hands. I also scrubbed thick nose “stuff” off wooden puzzles and was coughed, sneezed and burped on daily. I know nurses have similar encounters, but I also taught them to read, pledge the flag and understand the difference between George Washington Carver, George Washington and Dinah Washington as well as learn to sing all the words to “Anchors Aweigh.” 

My mother taught for 30 years at a school located just outside the gates of an Air Force Base. After 9-11, she worried her school was a “soft target” for terrorist looking for a way to harm our military families and made a silent commitment to do everything possible to protect her students. Even though she was a grandmother, I pitied the terrorist who ever thought about entering her classroom. She was an American Kindergarten Teacher with a dedication and love for her students. Whether it was a sharpened pencil to the eyeball or wooden blocks to the skull, she had a plan and was ready to roll.  Even now as a senior citizen in the “high-risk” category for the virus, she wondered if she could be of use at the local schools who may have a teaching shortage. 

Making the difficult decision to teach in the time of a pandemic is honoring a God-given gift. We owe these professionals our gratitude and fervent prayers for protection. 

Whether they are teaching from the kitchen table, online, or the frontline of a classroom, never fear because the teachers are here.

Coronavirus - Never fear, the teachers are here - Leslie Anne Tarabella for

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  • belinda stevens says:

    Just curious. I also grew up in Pensacola and my mother was a music teacher in the public schools. Just wondering where you taught school?

    PS: Teaching is the best job in the world. Blessings!

  • For the life of me I cannot understand why movie stars and athletes earn the big bucks and adulation. Teachers, police, firemen, healthcare workers, custodians, sanitation workers, our military…those are the real heroes In this country. Yet, they barely make a living wage and often get no respect. Thank God for their sacrifice.

  • Tough decision Leslie Anne, however you look at this pandemic. It is a scary time and everyone needs to do what you are comfortable with if possible. If I were young and teaching I’d probably return to the classroom if possible. But older, you have to consider the possible consequences…….Praying for everyone this fall…….

    • So true. Age isn’t always the only factor to consider. What if a young teacher is trying to have a baby soon? so much to think about.

  • Carol Willis says:

    So grateful to be a RETIRED teacher. Going through 911 with my high school students was hard enough. When one student said, “It’s only a building (in NYC!). What’s the big fuss about?” I knew this English teacher had a lot of teaching to do. And it wasn’t about English!! Thanks Leslie Ann for your words today.

    • Thanks Carol. What a time to be teaching during 9-11! I think I would have cried my way through the next month. I have a friend out of state who is not going back to teach right away and somehow got a job working with homeschool students in a group for now. Thank goodness for some creative alternatives.

  • If I were a teacher, I’m not sure what I would do. I hope I would be brave enough to go back to the classroom, but it would depend on what grade I was teaching. I’m just glad my children’s teachers showed up. I don’t know what I would do without them!

    • Sometimes I think older students would be easier to deal with then other times, I think the younger ones would go along with the masking rules better. It’s a toss-up. Wishing all the best for your children!

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