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Magnolia Mama: Reflections on a Difficult School Year

The end of the school year brought a mix of emotions. Some parents happily look forward to a slower summer pace, while others anxiously wonder which camps are open and where to safely vacation. 

Some students feel joyful on the last day of school, while others are sad about leaving friends, or apprehensive about the upcoming school year. Teachers are ready for a much deserved break, but may begin to miss their students and worry about them over the summer. All of these emotions are common, but this atypical 2020-2021 school year deserves an extra dose of GRATITUDE.  

We need to be grateful for our teachers, who gracefully made it through with smiles on their faces, even if hidden behind a mask. As if teachers’ jobs weren’t hard enough, they were tasked with putting together virtual assignments in the frustrating world of Google Classroom and Zoom. These changes undoubtedly impacted some students’ mental health, and dealing with it often landed in the laps of our devoted teachers. Teaching during the pandemic is nothing anyone was prepared for. This isn’t what teachers signed up for, and yet they showed up every day. We are grateful for our teachers’ dedication and tenacity. 

This school year wasn’t any easier for our children. Kids who attended in-person wore masks and had their temperatures checked repeatedly. Classes were smaller and beloved traditions were abandoned. Some lunches were eaten at desks instead of in cafeterias with friends. Kids were told to keep a physical distance from classmates. Field trips were cancelled, water fountains were taped off, and kids’ hands were dry from over-sanitizing. Those who participated in distance learning dealt with technical issues, constant distractions, and lack of social interaction. Our children hung in there through all the new rules, sweaty masks and technical glitches. We are grateful for our children’s resilience. 

Parents faced a challenging school year. Families of distance learning students had to figure out how they would support their children at home and still manage professional obligations. Parents whose children attended school had the never-ending task of cleaning masks, backpacks and school supplies. Parents also had to deal with disappointment and anxiety for a school year that was not as it should be. A parent’s job is tough, and this year made that job even tougher. We are grateful for parents who gently guided their children through a taxing school year while they too were full of angst. 

While the school year has been difficult, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our families, and our teachers. We realize we have plenty to be grateful for. 

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