A Tribute to a Community of Education Heroes
By Christy S. Martin, Ed.D. (op-ed)
Yesterday you could feel in the air a collective sigh of relief and hope. After lower-than-normal temperatures for days, spring feels like it is in the air. Yes, the weather is fine, but more than that, educators here in my town have been vaccinated in mass for the last few days. It is time to celebrate them and what they have accomplished.
The local hospital vaccinated over 800 educators yesterday with plans to do the same or more on Saturday. To say that teachers here are ecstatic would be an understatement. Reports were that by Friday afternoon, one could feel the collective sigh of relief in the hallways of school buildings.
I live in the south. We start school on time. In fact, traditionally, in early August, before many other parts of the country start school, we begin school here in East Tennessee. It has been a noteworthy year but one that has elevated our courageous and hardworking educators here to hero status. The county has within its ranks two city systems and one county, and all have offered both online and in-person education to all students K-12 the entire year.
There have been rough spots. School started with blended education. In late fall and early winter, challenges with staff sick or quarantined due to COVID-19 sometimes made in-person school challenging. The teachers and principals, however, persevered. Online education was a new and challenging arena for them, and they stuck with it. Sometimes school had to close. They hung in there, always with the best interest of the youth in mind.
When schools could not meet for in-person learning, meals were offered to all young people with pick-up times listed and our schools sent home enough food for a young person to eat for days. When young people or their families couldn’t pick up the food, buses delivered it. Teachers called to check on kids they couldn’t see in person. It was all the acts of compassionate educators putting others’ health and safety before themselves.
There is no doubt the pandemic has changed education here. Some parents are opting for totally online education next year and the school systems are offering that. Other parents are choosing a new hybrid education that provides online school with parents in charge of much of the education with curriculum assistance if needed, but one day a week of school with peers for on-campus school. At the building level, plans are being completed for a new Career Academy for grades six to twelve to attract young people to trades and hands-on careers. At the post-secondary level, the local community college, in a collaborative effort with the community, is building a new addition to provide more technical and trades training to area youth. New options are being created for schooling and it is exciting.
To say that I am proud of the education community here and how it has handled the COVID challenges is an understatement. Their hard work and dedication to our most valuable resource, its children, is worthy of emulation around the country. Education is valued here, and it shows in the acts of teachers, administrators, and parents thru one of the most trying times in our country and community. To all involved in meeting the challenge, you are amazing. You are heroes, hard workers, and innovators who have triumphed.
About the Author
Christy Martin recently retired after more than 35 years as an educator K-12 and post-secondary, as well as several years as a coordinator of programs for youth aging out of foster care. She writes about what she knows from experiences in education and social services. Christy welcomes comments on her articles. Communicate with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also be found on Christy Martin | Facebook, Christy S. Martin (@ChristySMartin1) / Twitter, and (4) Christy Martin, Ed.D. | LinkedIn.