Region 1 Update (Aug/Sep 2021)
By Kelli Quan-Martin, CASE Region 1 Director
As a former classroom teacher, August and September always sparked excitement for me as the anticipation of starting school built. But this year seemed different. This year, like much of the last 17+ months, appears to continue to lack the sense of “normalcy” that we had become accustomed to. The months, weeks, and days leading up to the first days of school presented as emails with ever changing protocols and directives. What we might have planned yesterday was no longer a valid option. And what we might plan this morning will probably need modification by the end of the day. It’s difficult to think that this year will be any better than the last one, but I am challenging myself to try to see things differently.
In recent visits to campuses on their first day of school, I was interested to see what was really going on--if things were different or not. At one site, I arrived in the vicinity of the campus 30 minutes before the start of school, only to get caught in traffic and be stuck in the same spot for at least 20 minutes and then continue at a snail’s pace. Ironically, this event actually brought some happiness to start my day; after all, what’s not normal about a first day of school with endless traffic?
Then, when I finally found a parking spot, and stepped on to campus, I encountered crying parents unwilling to part ways with their students. Yes, this was witnessed at both an elementary school and a high school!
Once on the high school campus, I struggled to navigate a path through the crowds of students in the quad. Sounds of laughter, squeals of reunion delight, all emanating from students. Despite the faces covered by masks, I could immediately spot the anxious, new students who couldn’t seem to make sense of their schedules or locate their classes. I could identify the upperclassmen, standing tall with confidence and a sense of ownership of the campus. There were some teachers out, organizing Link Crew and Leadership students, yelling directions in between cheering and welcoming students. And inside the classrooms, I could find teachers catching up with each other, making last minute adjustments to their seating charts and boards, or just taking in that last sip of coffee during the calm before the storm. What wasn’t normal about this?
In those few moments at the schools, I realized that this is still another first day of school. Although we have masks and vaccine mandates, challenges of socially distancing classes of 40+ in a classroom, and so much more, we have what makes every school year great--the students (and their families)! So, if/when you get that feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated, keep in mind why we do what we do. Those students are the reason we show up every day, and for many, you are the reason the students show up.
Take care, and have a great start to the 21/22 school year!