Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty marvelous hours are waiting for us this year. We are clearly pleased to be done with 2020. Now we have new opportunities in 2021.
Annually I remind myself, as an elected member of the Board of Education, of our Mission educating our students:
We exist “to provide academic preparation, social responsibility, employability, and a desire of lifelong learning.”
Our tasks have become considerably more complex due to COVID-19. Even in the new year the virus rages out of control. While our newly re-elected West Virginia Governor Jim Justice keeps us on remote learning through the close of the first semester on January 15, the probability remains that we will have substantial community spread or “red” alert past that date.
In order to reassure myself completely—body, mind and soul—my lesson learned is to remain holistic. A scriptural song we sang in 4-H and in church youth groups helps me keep my perspective. The Biblical reference for the song is recorded in the book of Numbers 6:22, 24-26:
“The LORD said to Moses … ‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’”
The following is an excerpt from a December 2020 Facebook post by Teresa Thayer Snyder, retired Superintendent of Voorheesville Central School District in upstate New York. All parents and teachers need to hear this:
“I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to “catch them up,” I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply.
“When the children return to school, they will have returned with a new history that we will need to help them identify and make sense of. When the children return to school, we will need to listen to them. Let their stories be told. They have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times. There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned. Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history.”