Word from the Schools – Part Two of Two
In Wednesday’s post, we shared some of a conversation we had recently with a group of MAPS administrators about the covid conditions in the schools and how they’re being addressed.
Bothwell Middle School Assistant Principal Stephanie Anderson, who recently moved from the classroom to the office, is impressed with how everyone has handled the pandemic.
“I think it’s pretty amazing how resilient our students, and families, and staff have been. We have kids too. We’re all going through this. We go home to help our kids do their online classes or sit home in quarantine or whatever it is. We’re truly all in this together.”
“All in this together” takes on a special meaning when you figure the Marquette Area Public schools is 3200 people of all ages and disciplines trying to deal with something that has resulted in a logistical nightmare.
And then there’s the not-so-small matter of teaching and learning. It’s all very complicated.
Today we hear from teachers, parents, students, and the immediate past-president of the school board.
Christopher Thoms teaches 7th Grade Language Arts at Bothwell Middle School. He gives a shout-out to the students for how they’ve reacted to the new normal.
“The students are the real champions in this entire pandemic. I have not had a single issue from any students about social distancing or mask-wearing. They are certainly quieter, shyer, and a little more subdued because they have the option to hide behind the mask. After a few months in school, they have adapted and are starting to come out of their shells a bit more. I am honestly so completely proud of the job my students have done in managing the difficulties that Covid has presented.”
Addie Bailey is in her last year at Marquette Senior High School.
“It’s been a difficult year to be a senior. We missed the part of the year last year when we would have been taught how to apply to colleges and we would have taken our SAT’s. So going into this year we all were very lost and everything was pushed back until we took our SAT’s. Prepping for our next step hasn’t necessarily been difficult, it has just been filled with questions and no real answers.”
Today’s kids are facing challenges that most of us never have, or never will.
“I think most students are handling it as well as they can,” Bailey continues. “I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that it has taken a huge toll on our mental health and we are all just kind of taking it day by day.”
With a good support system at home, Addie will come out of this okay. Not all students have access to the same resources, but somehow most of these kids are dealing with the hand they’ve been dealt better than we might think.
Jillian Perry is a 5th grade teacher at Superior Hills Elementary School.
“I have an amazing group this year. Since my class has had to quarantine twice, they are a bit more anxious at times about it happening, but the resilience of the students and the way that they, too, care so much about their education is something that I can’t say how proud I am of enough.
And it sounds like there’s no falling back on any kind of “pandemic excuse.”
“I have high expectations for my students, and they are very aware, and want to do well. We have had so many “heart to heart” conversations this year. They know how much I care about them and how I only want them to feel loved and supported, this year more than ever. I feel that mutual respect from them as well and it’s something that I am so incredibly grateful for.”
Even though they can’t have the face time with parents that they’ve had previously, Britta Taylor, an early-elementary teacher at Superior Hills, says they’re still staying connected.
“I feel this year is the year where we are communicating even more than years past. We all want the same thing, for our children to be safe, loved and cared for during this strange time in history.”
Parents appreciate the commitment they’ve seen from MAPS teachers and staff.
Cordi Kroken has a child in elementary, middle, and high school.
“Everyone has been thrown a curveball. I think our teachers are ABSOLUTELY amazing for all the hard work they’ve put in. They’re doing an outstanding job! And I think they’re doing everything they possibly can to keep our kids safe, and I’m very grateful for that.”
Megan Dixon has two kids in the Marquette school system. She’s also impressed with the way things have been handled.
“There is no instruction manual for how to educate during a pandemic and I feel that the school district has done the absolute best they can to help our kids and accommodate families.”
Parents have also had to make decisions based on the needs of both their children and their families. In-school, online, hybrid… teachers are prepared with multiple options for the students.
“We decided to go face-to-face for the social aspect of school. Although they don’t have extra curricular activities at schools, and it is very different for students this year, but just being there is helpful for health and happiness for my kids.
“My husband and I both work in healthcare and honestly it didn’t make sense to keep our kids home to learn virtually and then we both go work in the healthcare setting all week. We are very careful to hopefully not bring anything home.”
Every family has had to deal with their own unique circumstances. The choices they make, and the support they provide their children, are key to getting through this thing with a minimum of hardship.
There’s also a program in the elementary schools called Social Emotional Learning. It’s a weekly class with lessons based on the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. The idea is to focus on the whole child in order to enhance academics, behavior and relationships. That’s called being pro-active. Address issues before they become problems.
Rich Rossway presided over his last meeting earlier this month after serving on the school board for 21 years, the last seven as president. He takes a well-deserved amount of pride in a school system that was apparently prepared to face such an unexpected disruption.
“The administration has had to recreate, along with our excellent teachers, the entire delivery of our curriculum. There is no template for what our district has faced, but the resourcefulness of our employees has been extraordinary.”
Life lessons are always some of the best. Growth through conflict. The school curriculum didn’t always include Pandemic Response 101, but that’s the class everybody’s taking, ready or not.