The perfect day is one with a life saving vaccine and a heartwarming sense of appreciation
Two weeks ago, the Lee County Board of Education held a meeting to determine if high schools in the county would remain on an all-remote schedule. Although the elementary and middle schools are already offering hybrid learning where students who wish could return a few days a week, high schools in the county have been on an all-virtual learning platform for almost a year.
As a teacher at Lee County High School for over twenty-three years, I watched the meeting with a growing sense of trepidation. I knew the chances were high that we would be changing over to hybrid learning. I was almost certain even before they made the announcement.
I was right about the board's decision. As of March 1, the county's high schools would switch over to the same hybrid learning schedule as the middle schools.
I cried. Some other teachers did the same.
I knew the board made the best decision they could. As the parent of a child who is learning virtually, I have never experienced more struggle to keep her academic and emotional state intact. She is a bright child taking advanced classes, but looking at some of her grades since she began learning virtually, you might not know it.
I know that the apathy and struggles she has undergone are not ones she faces alone. A week ago, during a tough day of teaching, I took one look at my children's faces on the computer and cried. You could see their emotional exhaustion and their decreased passion for learning. We talked about our hardships, and many of them mentioned that they were desperate to return to class. As much as I wanted them to be happy, I was still scared,
As a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I have practically locked myself away for the last year. Since this pandemic began, I've stopped going to restaurants, and I've abandoned the gym I went to every morning and the malls I love.
And even though I wanted to see my students' smiling faces and benefit from their contagious energy, the thought of so many children in a room with me at one time was terrifying.
And please don't take this as a boast, but I'm reasonably certain that not too many teachers love their students more than I do. Many love them as much, but more? I'm not sure about that.
However, as most teachers do every day, I will love them in person and over a computer screen despite my fear.
But that is not the reason for my writing.
The day after the board's announcement, Governor Cooper stated that he would bump up teachers' availability date to get the COVID vaccine. Less than two days later, the Lee County Health Department provided us with a date only two weeks away.
I owe these people my greatest appreciation.
The announcement made teachers not only extremely happy but also made us feel enormously appreciated. While we do have many supportive parents and members in the community, there are many times that teaching feels like a thankless job.
To Governor Cooper and our county's rapid support in making the vaccine available, you have my overwhelming gratitude and appreciation.
Yesterday, I got the first vaccine. I felt like a child at Christmas. Superintendent Andy Bryan and Assistant Superintendent Chris Dossenbach were there to support us and share in our happiness. I cannot express the pride I felt when I saw these busy educational leaders greeting us as we drove in. The sign that said "we love teachers" was also heartwarming.
They started again.
The love and appreciation that I felt, combined with the hope that this vaccine gave me, was overwhelming. Of course, another vaccine is coming in three weeks, but you don't need the full glory of the sun beating on your shoulders to feel hope.
Sometimes, all you need is a single ray hitting you in just the right place.
And this is what yesterday meant.
To all the people who made this happen, to all the people who showed their support, I can never tell you how much what you did means.
When those children I love so much return, the fear will still be there. After all, we have only gotten the first of two shots, but I will feel much more comfortable in class. This comfort means a better educational environment and more powerful instruction.
I've always hated shots, but for the last year, I have been desperate to get one.
My immense thanks to every person that made this happen. You touched my heart and many other teachers' hearts as well. For many of us, that deed is not one we will soon forget.