Plot twists in the book of life which is 2020 has left me shaking my head in amazement—a traumatic coronavirus pandemic; a most unusual USA Presidential election; a sea change in mountain community life with no West Virginia Strawberry Festival, no Jawbone Park Festival Fridays, no weekly in-church worship services—further isolation in our Appalachian hills and hollows when the Governor’s code gives Upshur Schools first a medical emergency in the spring and then multiple red alerts week after week, leading to virtual school.
Fortuitously the four-week book study that I led with Upshur County Schools staff, exploring Trauma Responsive Therapy, has helped me gain my focus. Always I have heard if you want to understand something, master the subject and then teach others. My hope is that my teaching did reach my subjects in our virtual TEAMS classroom. Certainly, I had a high bar teaching teachers. Actually, ’twas scary to face professionals whom I admire so much. Our teachers and service personnel are superheroes in my book. All summer our cooks, volunteer teachers and bus drivers fed our students. Now the plot twists every Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. when we tune into our COVID-19 task force announcement about what school will be like the coming week. Just staying adaptive has proved true the proverb “Iron sharpens iron.”
When I was growing up, getting my educational foundation at Academy Grade School, Buckhannon- Upshur Junior High School and B-U High School, I benefited from an era of domestic tranquility. And I definitely felt the security and peace of a happy home life that included a bedtime ritual—Dad telling a creative “Brer Rabbit” fairy tale that started with “Once upon a time...” and ended with the comforting words: “And they lived happily ever after.” As a child of an optimistic post-World War II America (possibly the zenith of our culture), I dreamed that life might be like those happy bedtime stories. Actually, I felt that whatever obstacles, dangers or perils might come my way, in the end, I would live happily ever after.
Being the author and the discusser of my latest book Coping With Crisis: A West Virginia Doctor’s Perspective gave us all a chance to regain our footing. For an hour on Thursday evenings for four weeks, we had a chance to step back from the slippery slope of 2020 plot twists. To Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, our Upshur County Schools Superintendent, thank you for allowing this opportunity. I am grateful for those participating. I am glad we rose above the current crisis-filled days and shared a perspective common to leaders who chart our own destiny body, mind, and spirit. Lesson learned—keeping our mission ever before us really does matter in the end.