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.
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