Returning to the classrooms may never be more important.
As students move back to the classrooms, they may face one of the most critical challenges in their lifetime — regaining the momentum of their education. And the other part of the equation, teachers, too, face the challenge of managing this transition.
They deserve our support and prayers.
Few indicators are more accurate predictors of one’s future potential than reading and socialization skills. And the classroom environment, by design, is the best incubator we’ve come across yet.
If we learned anything during the past year, schooling from home might be an alternative but never a replacement.
We are a society — that is an amalgamation of different people, opinions, economic status and races, to name a few. Therefore, each classroom is a mini-civics class where we learn to accept others, get exposed to those who think differently or discover the critical art of compassion.
I remember one particular lesson in the latter in grade school.
There was one girl others picked on because of how she dressed, acted out and loved to chase others on the playground claiming she was giving them cooties.
At the time, I was like any others, simply trying to figure out the socialization puzzle.
I never had the heart to make fun of others or pile on. My mother’s voice was continually ringing in my ears about treating others well. I did my best to listen to her.
This girl would come to class most days in wrinkled clothes, her hair falling down her shoulders in fits and starts, and exhausted.
One day, she came to class, put her head down on her desk and didn’t raise it when the teacher called her name.
The class turned around as the teacher walked between us. Bending over, the teacher put her hand on the girl’s shoulder and leaned in. As the girl looked up, we could see the scratches and bruises on her face. The teacher then, instinctively and compassionately, leaned in to protect the girl from the eyes of others.
Moments later, the teacher walked the girl out of our classroom. The girl wrapped her arms around the waist of the teacher, retreating from prying eyes.
I don’t think we ever saw the girl again — but the lesson haunts me to this day.
Some of us face demons outside the classroom. Unfortunately, this girl’s world was home to a place where people felt slapping around a small, defenseless child was perfectly acceptable. The student’s biggest bullies lived under the roof of her home. I now call that hell.
I’ve carried this transferred pain with me my entire life. I still wonder where her life took her. I pray she found a safe and loving home. But I also know the odds.
Yes, I learned to read, add and subtract in the classroom. But I also realized I am a small part of a much larger — and at times different — world.