Last week marked the third consecutive year that Gideon has gone back to school.
Of course, he spent most of the summer working on professional development and the first few weeks in August getting his classroom ready. Being married to a teacher is a learning experience in itself ó for example, I have learned to avoid making jokes about how teachers have the whole summer off.
Iíve also learned that teachers are quite exhausted during the first few days of the school year. Gideon went to bed at 8:30 on Tuesday night and had the gall to ask if Iíd be down soon, when he clearly knows my head doesnít hit the pillow until midnight or later. I wrote it off as teacherís brain, a rare illness that keeps you sharp at work and discombobulated at home.
Most of us know teachers are especially exhausted this year. We still have spiking cases of COVID-19, but a large number of people seem to believe we have overcome the virus. Youíll see these people at Walmart with naked faces, spewing spit across the deli section. Youíll also see them online sharing videos that allegedly debunk the COVID-19 vaccine, the effectiveness of masks and sometimes the virus as a whole.
Yes, there are people who believe COVID-19 doesnít exist. This is why we need good teachers.
Perhaps I am biased, but I feel like Gideon is a great teacher. He gets up early and stays late to ensure his lesson plans are ready for all his kids. Heís always careful to avoid using studentsí names when telling me about his day and only shows me art theyíve made if itís displayed publicly.
Regular readers know I could never be a teacher. Remember the time I yelled at a Teach For America interviewer during a teaching demo? Yeah, Iíd have a disaster classroom. I jokingly asked Gideon his first year of teaching which students he dislikes and he told me that he likes all his students. You have to find the good in people, he said. How else can you teach them new concepts in good faith?
Last week, I finished an article in a new series on COVID-19 with a focus on how Eureka Springs schools are responding to the virus. I wrote about the mask mandate and the schoolís new virtual learning program. After interviewing a handful of teachers and administrators, I realized that everyone shares Gideonís attitude about teaching.
They all see the good in their students. They are all facing this school year with a smile despite the fear thatís lingering inside all of us. They know the virus it out there, no doubt. But they put on a mask, finish up their lesson plans and give their kids all theyíve got Monday through Friday.
I have always admired teachers, but having a teacher in my home brings new appreciation for everything they have to deal with. I see how tired Gideon is at the end of the day. I also see how proud he is when his kids do well on end-of-year tests. Teaching is a job you excel at because of your passion.
On Friday night, I expected Gideon to go to sleep before midnight. Then I woke up after midnight and he was still upstairs. He told me the next morning that he was inspired to work on some upcoming projects for his students. As soon as I fell asleep, he got on his computer to work. Thatís the definition of passion, if you ask me.
To all the teachers in our county, I sure appreciate you! I know itís not easy to do what you do right now. I know you sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. Thank you for staying with it and making sure our local kids have the best education possible.
We are all lucky to have educators like you in our community.