In the 1960s when I was in elementary school my mom would sometimes talk about life during the Great Depression. After a while, I found myself rolling my eyes, careful that she wouldn’t see, as she recounted the stories that I had heard so many times before.
She told of the groceries that mysterious appeared on their front stoop during the night. She talked about the shoes given and the clothes passed down. Of course, now I wish I had listened more attentively. But a 10-year-old is a 10-year-old, after all.
When I was in high school, occasionally there were names read in the morning after we had recited the Pledge of Allegiance together. These were names of the students who had graduated just a few years ahead of me that had recently fallen in battle in Vietnam. I didn’t know these names, I didn’t know their faces, and so I paid little attention. I wish now I had given my full devotion to the moment of silence that followed instead of trying to finish the homework for first period English. But a 17-year-old is 17-year-old, after all.
I may or may not be here in 2047 when today’s students will talk to their children about what it was like to go to school the fall of 2020. They will speak then of the sacrifices their teachers made; of the willingness of their teachers and administrators to tackle the new sanitizing protocols and the extra work of educating students on the other end of a computer line.
They will understand then, what they are unable to see today. They will acknowledge their teachers and administrators stepped up. That these dedicated professionals put themselves at risk of infection to be the teachers and role models that were desperately needed.
Rarely when we walk through uncharted times, do we realize what is at stake. We simply do what needs to be done. Only later, often much later, do we realize what had transpired.
So, I want to tell you what I see now and appreciate.
I appreciate the willingness of people to teach and lead.
I appreciate the extra assignments they have had to take on.
I appreciate the fact they are moving forward in the face of uncertainty.
I appreciate their willingness to interact with scores of children not knowing if one of them will unwittingly pass the virus on to them.
So thank you. Thank you very much.
I also know parents are under a great deal of stress. Emotions are tight. They may feel unable to control their lives, as they had been accustomed to doing. So at times fear will prevail and get the better of them. Because of this, a teacher, office worker or principal may find themselves on the receiving end of someone’s rant. You may become the target for undue criticism or ridicule.
This is natural. We’re all experiencing this. I encourage you to be patient. You may not hear the “thank yous” that will come in time, but I assure you they will come.
I know that I am one of many who want to expedite this process by saying “thank you,” now. You are making a difference. Your efforts will be remembered. What you do matters, perhaps more now than it ever has.
Dr. Doug Boquist is the pastor of Lima Community Church