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Heathwood's Teachers Have Never Been More Deserving of Our Appreciation

Monday, May 4, 2020

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and, to be honest, I doubt there has ever been a time that Heathwood teachers have been more deserving of our appreciation than now. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, each one of us has been impacted in one way or another, and teachers certainly are not exempt from this effect. However, despite the fact that they are delivering instruction in crisis mode, Heathwood teachers are rising to the occasion and knocking it out the park with remote learning.

Within a matter of days, teachers and staff worked tirelessly to create, implement, and deliver a complete remote learning platform for students. They are continuing to work overtime as they seek to find creative ways to ensure our children both are engaged academically and feeling as connected to the Heathwood community as possible during this most unusual and unprecedented time. I imagine lesson planning and delivery in a remote learning environment is even more time consuming than in the traditional classroom setting and presents unique challenges, even in the absence of a global pandemic. And yet our teachers are doing all this while simultaneously trying to balance the needs and concerns of their own families during a national crisis. Heathwood teachers miss their students, their routines, witnessing the “aha” moments that occur in the classroom, and our beautiful Heathwood campus. However, they are the cheerful, brave faces that greet our children remotely and provide a sense of calm and normalcy where desperately needed.

Our teachers are instructing in crisis mode, yet they continue to embody Heathwood’s focus on the whole child. They are managing to strike the right balance of furthering academics without overwhelming students. During this time of great uncertainty, it is neither healthy nor helpful for our children to be anxious about academics. They miss their friends, their teachers, and their pre-pandemic lives. I am so very thankful that Heathwood teachers understand this and proactively consider students’ academic and mental well-being in their planning. They are striving to meet each Heathwood family where they are right now, whether the family has one child or several, has a single parent, a stay at home parent or dual working parents, a frontline worker, or is battling illness. Our teachers see the “big picture” and are putting students’ needs first. And they are doing this with great grace, demonstrating compassion when a student misses a meet, an assignment, or just falls short in some way.

As a mom of three boys, I am seeing daily the hard work of my sons’ teachers and the impact it is having on my children. I’m seeing friendly faces helping celebrate “big” milestones – a first wiggly tooth, a double digits birthday in quarantine, a bedroom that is FINALLY cleaned up (and thankful for the gentle nudge to keep it that way!) – our teachers are continuing to celebrate with our family despite the physical distance. I’m seeing kindergarten teachers delivering special books to doorsteps and creating personalized videos for students, 4th grade teachers surprising delighted students with buckets of goodies and willing to give up office hours to chat with a student about his day and favorite things simply because the student was in the mood to chat, and 6th grade teachers allowing students to introduce their pets with their class. I’m seeing PE teachers encouraging students to keep moving and get outside, an art teacher delivering video drawing lessons while holding an adorable pup, a science teacher mailing handwritten letters that include jokes to brighten students’ days, fun Star Wars music lessons, and the list goes on. I’m seeing my children enjoy the routine of chapel and Town Hall, and the sense of community that they bring. I’m seeing my boys dress for Heathwood spirit days, read Bible verses for a special Easter video, and watch Heathwood celebrities read bedtime stories each night. I get calls from middle school teachers and staff, checking in on my children.

And I am grateful for all of this. I am just so very grateful. This is so much bigger than academics; this is about community. I have never been prouder to be part of the Heathwood village. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to our Heathwood teachers. May you know the impact you have on our children and families every day, but most especially during this time.