It truly takes a village.
This topic is hardly new for this column space; the year of 2020 has made this point more evident than ever before.
Last week I addressed my concerns for our youth as we navigate this Corona life, which doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Yet I would be remiss, if I did not give kudos and credit to the educators and administrators doing their darnedest to try and do right by our kids.
Before proceeding there are two things I need to address.
First would be the fact that this is hardly the warm and fuzzy topic one might normally find in this space during the month of December. But times they are a changing and issues they are a pressing.
The second would be acknowledging that not all teachers, administrators and support staff are hitting a home run in the distance learning department. I get it. I’m a fairly understanding person when it comes to recognizing the challenges of change and this year has been quite the yo-yo or a doozy for this. Just like there are journalists, police officers and business owners who should consider a different field, that holds true for education as well. But we truly should show a little bit of grace as they navigate a career path in a way they truly did not sign up for.
That being said, it is also (in my opinion) when we must humble ourselves like never before and truly be open and patient with the circumstances of others. Not to be misread or misunderstood, I am not a parent accepting to excuses, nor a subscriber to the mindset of everyone gets a trophy, but man oh man is our mental health more important now than ever before.
Yet, I digress and can quickly find myself on a soapbox for this topic, so back to the kudos.
From as far back as Preschool, I’ve always been the parent to approach my children’s teachers from a “team” aspect. Recognizing early on that the child they are at school is not necessarily the someone I care for at home. Simply put, the educator knows my child in a different way than I do. Most teachers (as well as administrators) verbalized appreciation for this mindset and then came 2020.
Not only did we enter the school year of 2020 remotely, but with a junior high and high school student there is not the same connection to teachers as we embraced in elementary school. This is as it should be after all, the transition of releasing the reins a bit to help them prepare for what’s up ahead.
But 2020 finds this momma wishing for that connection to these teachers like never before. The momma in me, wants to e-mail them all (or most) asking for guidance and help as my students struggle in certain subjects.
Yet the leader in me, recognizes my children/students/future leaders must build that relationship with these teachers they don’t know and navigate their way. However I’m still their mom. So as I continue to see some struggles go on, I must run a bit of interference. In so doing I have to say we have some true stand up leaders in Oakdale Joint Unified School District.
In such a dark time, it is so reassuring and refreshing to know that amidst all the sludge there are still people in this and dedicated to making it right by our students. This coming to you from a momma who has (more than once) found herself in tears wondering how can I help my kids.
This after all remains uncharted and both students are in the academic season of thinking about careers and college? How do they do that?
Recent interactions with leaders at both campuses has reminded me of a rough time in my own primary education. One bad year of Honors English placed me the following year in the standard class with many of my friends. Just one problem, it was boring and midway through the semester I was failing.
Fortunately for me my prior English teacher, who happened to be the English Department Head inquired as to how I was doing. Recognizing I needed the challenge, I was returned to the AP program and the rest as they say is history.
Oakdale High School Vice-Principal Shannon Kettering has now been this leader for my student. Working with her as I struggle as a parent, feeling helpless and inferior at helping my student has restored my hope in what’s to come for our kids. Do we get it right all the time? Of course not. But my dear readers, if we can’t lean in and be real with one another we are not only short changing ourselves but each other.
As stated in the top, it’s been a doozy of a year and there are a number of educators I should note, but Kettering, well, what I know for sure is this woman is dancing as fast as she can to try and save our kids. For this momma, that is more than priceless, it is true blessing. Thank you.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.