ELA Dedication

I want to give the biggest shout out to all the kids taking the ELA state test today. I know it’s been a hard couple of years because of COVID and all that’s going on in the world but each of you woke up today and bravely walked to school ready for your test.

I am so proud of Giovanni and Isannah. I couldn’t believe they asked us to sign them up. With being fully remote since March of last year, these two still wanted to take the test. One day after a morning class with their remote teacher they ran downstairs asking if we signed them up. At the time we hadn’t but did at their request.

Leading up to this day, Isannah began feeling nervous but that didn’t change her stance. I asked them again if this is what they wanted. Although Isannah was feeling stressed, she said yes. Giovanni turned to me and said, “I want to take the test so my teacher can see what I know and what I need to work on.” I thought that was a grown up response and a fresh way of looking at testing.

Now, let’s rewind a bit to 2:00am this morning. Giovanni woke up with the worst bloody nose. I was up with him trying to control it for over an hour. He was tired but couldn’t sleep because it just wouldn’t stop. Every Spring his nose bleeds get worse and his eyes swell shut. Yesterday he was outside playing and his eyes began to swell.

This morning I didn’t want to wake him as I knew he didn’t sleep well but it was test morning and so I had to.

He slowly got up and said, “I’m so tired. This is the day I don’t want to be tired or worried that my nose will bleed again in school but I am going to get up because I want to be there.”

I really felt his pain as I was dragging too but didn’t suffer most of the night like he did. I was just up by him and comforting him.

Praying that all goes well.

Whatever happens, I know they will do their best given the circumstances. I hope they know I am already proud of them.

Thank you to the school staff that are all helping make this possible for both remote and blended students.

Opt-in now, It’s not over?

There is still so much going on about schools opening, opting in or out, blended learning, fully remote, etc… There’s a lot of people that truly don’t have the children’s best interest at heart but you also have those that care so unbelievably much you can see it bursting from their eyes. We have been fully remote since last year when COVID all began. We wanted to make sure our families were safe and remained safe. We wanted to help others stay safe and stop the spread. We did our best like many others to be informed and follow doctors advice and listen to all that was going on. It was all so new and everyone had an opinion. People were harsh and became obnoxious, conspiracies and hoax rumors began. This all while we saw life fading. People dying right in front of our eyes. People we knew and loved. People we never even met but felt the loss deeply. 

We saw hospitals being filled over capacity. Patients set up on the open streets surrounding the hospitals and in parking lots. Tents were set up, equipment was needed. We saw the tired passionate faces of medical staff and workers. First responders were working horribly extended hours too. We saw refrigerated trailer trucks pulling up to hospitals to store bodies of those who didn’t make it, to make room in hospitals for other patients. I can still these images playing in slow motion in my head. Visions that will never leave me. 

Our eyes were permanently glued to the news as we cringed and watched in fear. The unknowing is the fear that builds so rapidly in our bodies. This feels like a lifetime ago but it was a year ago, and at the same time feels like only yesterday. And it’s still not over, but the relief I’m sure we all felt was when those refrigerated trailer trucks pulled away from hospitals never to return. Vaccinations becoming available. 

Now we can continue our part by getting vaccinated. Helping those that can’t get to a vaccination site or can’t complete the proper protocols needed to get an appointment. We need to continue to help each other so that more lives aren’t rapidly taken away from us. So that hospitals aren’t once again over filled. We need to keep COVID away or help reduce the deathly scary symptoms. The vaccine doesn’t make it go away but it reduces the risks of hospitalization, being put on a ventilator, and helping to maintain the symptoms especially for our elderly and immunocompromised family and friends. Together we can help. There’s no room for selfishness here. We are one world under God. Let’s help him help us.

Now let me go back to why I began my ramble about schools. There has been a lot of confusion. A lot of lies being told both to families and school staff. I get it. No one knows and people are all trying to do what’s right. We are tired. We are scared for many reasons. As a parent there’s a lot of fear. Fear for our kids safety and health. Fear of making the wrong decisions for our children. Will they learn or regress? Are they so far away from real socialization that it’s taking a toll on their growth and well being. There are so many factors and feelings going on in my head as I’m sure many others are going through similar emotions. 

I keep beating myself up trying to figure out what is right at this stage. 

Vaccinations are more available now. We are fully vaccinated. There seems to be light coming in through all the linings that have been forming around us. The opt-in that was told to us in the very beginning is now available to families once again. Things are feeling a bit better but things aren’t over and not close to being over. But there is now hope. A hope that was fading is now coming to life.

I heard such horrible stories about schools and staff but I am thankful for the school my children attend. Thankful for all they have been doing to stay vigilant, a head of it all (even though it seems impossible), to keep us informed, truly caring about their students, even if it comes at a   higher price at times. As much as I always want my kids in school, I am thankful that we had the ability to keep them home throughout all this time. We finally found a groove and consistency that worked for our family with the help of amazing teachers and staff. My fear of our kids lacking or not learning disappeared after seeing how excited they were about seeing their teacher. Hearing the excitement they still had for school. 

After our first parent teacher conference, I truly got to see the love their teacher displayed for not only our kids but all her students. Then the second parent teacher conference hit and she spoke of our children’s growth, participation and all the wonderful things she shared thereafter. It opened my eyes to confirm how resilient children really are and how hard they keep trying and striving to do the best they can even in these crazy circumstances. Of course, we have the outbursts out of the school day. Little things you can see they have picked up as their way to cope and deal with all that is happening right before them. 

How can they not? As a parent and an adult, I struggle and I try to find my own ways to deal with all that is going on so that my children do not suffer or pay for my actions. 

We are all dealing with it the best way we can. Even struggling not only within ourselves but also with family members. Trying to figure out what is best for our family with different minds coming together can be hard. Agreeing isn’t always there but we look past that to see the bigger picture. Maybe the decision is one sided and needs getting used to or maybe we come together after a lot of “what ifs” but we do it. 

It’s not without heavy hearts, and constant discussions pleasant or not, it’s what has to be done. 

What helps is that I know my school has protocols in place that are being followed. I know teachers (who I call friends) truly care about their kids. They care so much that it hurts them when they can’t hug students and comfort their kids when it is needed but they have found other ways to get them through it. They are “not” babysitters but educators. They are the inspiration that keeps children looking up and moving forward. They are providers of tools that they need each day to reach higher. Each teacher in their own field provides so much for the mind and soul. They keep our kids happy and learning, moving and growing, singing and dancing. They are steps that help them climb to a new level. Sometimes while stumbling they provide support so they don’t fall and if they happen to fall, they make sure they know someone is always there while at school to help. 

Not all teachers, principals, and school staff are the same but if you have that special group, you are one of the lucky few. 

All this doesn’t mean I’m not afraid or my heart doesn’t sink several times a day, it just means we are getting through it all, we have to. 

I’m grateful every day that I have someone at my side to be my strength when I’m crumbling. I am thankful that through it all he’s been a pillar of strength and flat out bluntness. That he’s researched every aspect of every situation and gave me the ability to see things more clearly. Even when I am frustrated and we see things differently, which definitely happens he allows me to feel it through. Who agrees anyhow, right? But for right now, it’s going to carry us and damn, it has to!

Goodbye COVID-19 3rd grade!

I let a couple of days go because I couldn’t put into words all the emotions I was feeling. I still don’t think I can but I will try. 

I knew the day was coming. It was time to say goodbye to 3rd grade and welcome 4th grade into our life. The days leading up to the last day of school were changing. The kids seemed a little quieter. They spoke more about their teachers and what they felt the last day would be like. How it would make them feel?

I’m going to bounce around here a bit. I’m going to take you back to the first day of 3rd grade. The kids were so excited. We all were. It was a big step for the kids. It was the beginning of all new firsts and that meant state testing. We never put strain and any stress on the kids about the test. It was treated as just another day in our home. However, my kids knew what being in the 3rd meant. 

The years before when it was time for the older kids to take their state test, the school would have the younger kids cheer and support them the night before. The excitement filled the halls. The happy cheers were met with high fives and lots of laughter. This motivated the test takers and let them know they have a big support system. It was a kind gesture from the school but this also prepared the ones cheering them on for what lied ahead. 

I knew it was going to be a great year when I picked up my twins from school on that first day. The smiles on their faces and all the wonderful things they said about their new teachers confirmed my immediate thoughts. Giovanni loved his teacher and enjoyed very much going to school. He loves structure and interaction that being in a classroom setting provides.

Isannah also loved her teachers and felt comfortable knowing she could go to them with anything. They created a bond like no other and that made my heart smile. 

The year was going well until the beginning of March hit. The fear of a virus was spreading and the uncertainty of it weighed heavy on all of us. A lot of changes had to be made for the safety of our children and adjustments quickly followed. It was a situation none of us prepared for or believed could happen. 

The scare of COVID-19 closed schools and many other things. Kids, teachers and staff had to jump in to virtual teaching and learning. Giovanni and Isannah were scared but they were trying to understand what was going on. Virtual teaching had glitches, programs weren’t downloading, teachers were frozen and classrooms had too quickly shut dow, just to reopen again. A lot of trial and error and right when everyone was adjusted to Zoom platform, something happened to cause the teachers, as well as the children learn a new platform for virtual teaching. Things were getting confusing and my kids were feeling a bit discouraged. I’m sure we weren’t the only one’s feeling this way. It was a difficult situation and everyone was trying hard not to make it as such. 

There was a bunch of jumping around throughout the house trying to make sure each child was on the right Zoom/Google meets classroom link. Making sure after they completed their assignments the “turn in” button had been pressed and the work was actually submitted and not just hanging out on the computer screen. That happened a few times.

Through it all, I couldn’t begin to imagine all that was going on behind the scenes that the kids didn’t see. The dedication to our classes and students speaks volumes about the wonderful teachers we had this school year. 

As a parent, being so far away from home and struggling to make sure our kids have all they need to get through the school year, has been a challenge but with the teacher’s help it managed to work. Their support not only to our kids but to their families has made all the difference to what could have been a break down for all.

This year was the first for many things. It was a test of even more patience. It was the realization that anything, including school can be taken away in a blink of an eye. Things that we took for granted in our daily routine has become even more appreciated in the adjustments we needed to make each day. Parents became teachers, at least tried too, during the day when gaps were forming. 

We did this together. I am so unbelievably proud of the way Giovanni and Isannah handled all that was thorn at them. They had their moments of breakdowns but I know we all did. They felt overwhelmed and scared but talked it through and rose above it. They were teaching me all about Zoom meetings and functions. I listened and watched them navigate through subject classrooms and assignments on the computer with my jaw hitting the ground. They grew up so quickly in the three months this was all happening then they would in a years time. 

They grew emotionally, mentally and physically. I think I aged quite a bit myself. 

June 26 was the last day of school. It was a day of many emotions. Parents were invited to the morning meeting to join the kids as we all reflected on the school year. Some teachers shared photos from the beginning of the year to the end. Some expressed the best parts of 3rd grade and some about plans for the summer. Teachers said their final goodbyes and tears were forming in my eyes. Quite a few managed to escape and at that moment, it hit me, I now have two 4th graders. 

What a ride! What a year!