By TEA President Beth Brown.
During my childhood, my mother always displayed at least one picture of a lighthouse in our home, and I vividly remember her singing the words of one of her favorite hymns: “Let the lower lights be burning; send a gleam across the wave. Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.” As an adult, I recognize my mother’s love of lighthouses as her way of reminding her children of the hope we have in our family, our friends, and our faith.
Lighthouses serve as navigational aids and warn boats of dangerous areas. Metaphorically, lighthouses symbolize guidance and overcoming challenges and adversity. If March 2020 doesn’t qualify as a time of challenge and adversity, I don’t know what does!
Nothing about life is normal right now.
Following the devastating tornadoes of March 3rd, we are mourning loss of life; destruction of homes, churches, and businesses; and damage— some of it irreparable—to several Middle Tennessee schools.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we are “socially distancing” ourselves from our students, colleagues, friends, and communities. As we try to avoid respiratory illness, students and educators alike are heartsick, not knowing when—or if—we will return to school this year. School districts are planning how to get meals to students in an orderly and safe manner, how to mitigate learning loss due to extended closures, and how to honor graduating seniors when proms and graduations may not be possible.
No, nothing in life is normal. We are anxious about the safety and wellbeing of our own families as well as our students and colleagues. Toilet paper is a hot commodity, and we closely follow the news and social media just waiting to see if anyone in our community has been diagnosed with this dreaded virus and how quickly the nation’s number of cases rises.
During this uncertain time, we, as educators, can be lighthouses for our families, students, and communities. Let’s model healthy choices, like maintaining a regular schedule, eating healthy meals, and getting fresh air and exercise. Let’s use our screen time productively, to have virtual chats with our friends and colleagues or to read a book to our students. Let’s make the most of our time with our families by taking a hike or putting together a puzzle.
During this uncertain time, TEA is a lighthouse to Tennessee’s public education supporters. Though our building stands mostly empty as we work remotely, we are working...working for you. You have many questions about what happens next and about what is expected of you in the meantime. We are working with state policymakers to ensure that the best efforts are made to ensure students and educators are kept safe, well, and whole during this turbulent period. We will continue to share resources and updates about developments at the state level via our website and our social media channels regularly.
TEA, I understand the trepidation you feel right now. I feel it with you, but we will get through this. Shine on.