Today I stood in the hallway outside of my bedroom door, listening in as my sweet Ellie had her last kindergarten lessons.
I stood there in the hall, listening through the door, letting the tears flow free.
Oh, my goodness, my dear Ms. S
I have no idea how you did it!
As I stood there, eavesdropping shamelessly on your classroom, I felt as if I had stumbled into a strange time travel machine.
Wasn’t it just the other day when I stood in this very same spot, anxious and afraid, sure that remote kindergarten would be a horribly failed experiment for my first grandchild?
Wasn’t it just a few short days ago when I leaned against this door, hoping to hear the sound of Ellie’s voice as she (hopefully) engaged in your lessons?
How is it possible that under the pressures of Covid 19 time itself has become a stretchy, malleable, unknowable concept?
I don’t know. I have no answers.
Just as I have absolutely NO explanation for how it is that you managed to give your students the most wonderful kindergarten experience, although none of you have ever met or hugged or shared a meal?
My dear Ms. S,
I am so sad to see this wonderful year coming to an end. And I am so relieved and so happy and so unbelievably grateful for what you and your colleagues have achieved this year.
I know that you’ll be tempted to read all of the online opinions about what happened in our schools this year. I know. You’ll tell yourself that it doesn’t really matter, but I am sure that you’ll feel it deep in your heart when you hear all of the references to “learning loss” and how much our children have suffered.
You’re a teacher: I know you will take every criticism to heart.
But let me share my thoughts about this most historic and magical and astonishing school year.
My little Ellie came into your class as a shy, insecure, uncertain learner. She didn’t utter a word in her preschool class for the first 6 weeks.
But when she came to you, via Zoom, gazing into her “kindergarten Ipad”, she became a learner. She became a student.
She made friends, and I must say that this is the fact that astonishes me the most. Under your kind and warm guidance, Ellie quickly understood that she was a part of a community of learners. She learned new names and new faces; and she learned which of “my friends” share her interests and which simply intrigue her because they are so funny.
I watched our little girl grow this year. In a normal school year, I would have had no contact with her classroom life. But because of the pandemic, I was able to lurk in the hallway outside of her door, hearing the sound of her laughter, her interest, her engagement.
I heard my grandchild grow up.
In September, Ellie was afraid to admit that she knew how to spell her name. She was unsure, cautious, nervous to take a risk.
In June, her favorite activity is grabbing a book (any book) and reading to her younger brothers and her grandparents. She writes stories, writes notes, pretends to be a reporter as she interviews me.
Because of your calm, assured, joyful approach to school, Ellie is proud to announce that “I’m a good mathemetician”. She is sure of her intelligence. She is willing to sound out words that are completely new to her.
Dear Ms. S,
How does an aging grandmother, a retired teacher, a highly emotional activist woman ever manage to express how grateful I am for all that you and your staff have accomplished this year?
I don’t know.
I don’t know what to say, or how to thank you, or how to fully express all of the ways that you made this year seem “normal” and “manageable” and “safe”.
You are my hero.
You will always be my hero.
I still remember the love and care that I received from my kindergarten teacher back in 1960. I can still see her face and hear her deep voice.
You’ve managed to give my little granddaughter the same sense of wonder, the same belief in herself and the same social skills that I was given so many decades ago.
I always cry on the last day of school; this year my tears are more complex, more numerous, and more deeply felt.
We will owe you our gratitude forever.Age of Awareness
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