Our Good Neighbors:
Students, Parents, and Educators!
Four years ago I spent every early morning taking my young nephew to elementary school. He was in kindergarten at Northside Elementary and our mornings would be spent in a rush of cars, traffic, kids rushing by to greet friends, and a mad flurry of laughter, frenzied activity each morning as I waited with Owen for his day to start. He would tell me each day how excited he was for what was to come that day. Maybe it was because he was excited to see a certain friend, or perhaps because he knew that they would be reviewing a unit on the ocean. For a very active and rambunctious five year old being fully engaged in the classroom was full time work, but Owen did his best. I fast forward four years and think about a new world for parents…
Its 8:10 AM on Monday morning and by now it’s a structured routine to log in to your classroom, be greeted by your teacher, and say hello to all of your friends before starting your lessons for the day. Days full of class work, online specials such as Art, PE, Music, Library, or Language arts. If you are in Kindergarten like my little friend Adrian this is a pretty new experience to you. Adrian has gone to preschool for two years and making the transition from seeing friends and learning to love school in a warm environment to now being at home with his teacher online with his mom guiding him is pretty different. Adrian’s mom Betty juggles helping him with his classwork, working part time, and his two younger siblings. As Adrian watches his younger sister Bianca be able to go to her class in person for preschool he struggles to understand why he is not able to do the same. He’s a kid who is excited for school and is genuinely sad he’s not able to go right now. Their story like many others is not unfamiliar to so many others in our community today.
Sitting down and talking to my friend Krystal who just started her 4th grade year at Mountain View Elementary I was able to get some firsthand perspective of how distance learning is affecting someone a little bit older. She said it was not as hard this time because they ended last year doing school online, “This time is much better though. It’s more organized.” Krystal showed me her weekly agenda that she gets and how she is able to click on the links that takes her to assignments. The fact that her teacher is able to record the lessons in order for Krystal to be able to go back and review anything she thinks that she may need more time is also helpful to her. “I miss seeing my friends. I also like getting more help at school from my teacher when I need it.” Krystal responded when I asked what the major downfalls to distance learning were. I asked her what she liked about distance learning and she said, “I like being with my family more.”
I also spent time with Krystal’s mom, and asked her how this has been affecting her. She said that the biggest challenge has been balancing working full time and finding the time to help Krystal at the same time. She said that being able to have a more cohesive family unit is a large blessing that has come out of all of this. It has made more time for their family of four to come together. She does feel like organizationally the school district has made huge strides to make this year a lot better than it was the end of last year. Krystal is able to log on easily and communicate with her teacher much more effectively.
I have spoken to employers who are feeling the crunch with helping out employees who are juggling work life balance in a whole new way. It is hard when you have to still run a business but you also want to do what is best for your people and their families. Many have stepped up to let kids be in the office, let parents take a longer lunch, maybe come in late, all to accommodate a different place in time.
Lastly, our educators! You have the job of trying to write the new script on the fly. The rules are changing for all of you and we appreciate what you have accomplished over the last year as your entire jobs have pivoted 180 degrees. All of you that stay calm cool and collected in the storm are what makes it easier for our children to have any sense of normalcy at all.
Now that students, parents, and educators have spent a month distance learning it seemed only right to nominate all of you as Good Neighbors. You are blazing a trail through unknown territory and doing your best to navigate new emotions, hardships, technological trials, learning break throughs, and triumphs. We are proud of all that you are accomplishing and we are here supporting you along the way!