Unlike many who were forced to work from home this past year due to the pandemic, I was fortunate to actually go to work. I’m a retired Galveston Independent School District teacher with 40 years of experience, who continues to work as a substitute teacher every year.
After completing a six-week maternity leave position, I was asked to work part-time as a tutor for special education students. I was excited to do this to help the students catch up on their crucial academic skills. This gave me the most joy and sense of fulfillment.
I worked with teachers and administrators every day discussing the needs of these students. We worked out a plan that was changed many times, but always in a better way to accommodate the students.
I was astonished at how well the school was operating. I began this job in late October, which meant that the school had been opened and operating since August. The faculty, staff and students were following all new rules, schedules and required procedures without one complaint.
They had settled into a rhythm of movement each knowing their responsibilities and what was the new standard. The students never complained about wearing their masks. Every day they wore them like a soldier wears his protective gear. They never took them off to play or use creatively.
I immediately became aware of what was making this “new” routine work successfully — district school teachers. They are the true heroes. I can say this because I know from my years of teaching what the body language of a teacher tells. Every day they walk into the building with their armor, much like a soldier’s gear; bags on their shoulders full of work they took home and always the “extra” things needed for their lessons.
They look tired and weary, fully equipped to face the day’s challenge; mask on, lessons planned and a smiling face to greet their students. This is what goes unnoticed to the outside world. During the day, the halls are quiet, everyone in their classrooms learning and showing growth in all subject areas.
I’m so proud our school district didn’t hesitate to make this year productive. They developed a plan, and everyone did their job, everything old became something “new.” This isn’t an easy task when dealing with parents that are scared and want only the best for their child. The district made them realize how important it is to be inside a safe, clean and warm classroom.
Everyone who lives and pays school taxes in Galveston should be proud to say, “Money well spent.” I’m humbled to have watched from an old school teacher’s eyes, a simple miracle that took place this year. My part was small, but it will be something that I will never forget, especially the students that I worked with, who every day made me proud to be called, teacher.