A Message from Devin Walsh, MPE President
Distance Learning, Zoom, Teletherapy and Quaranteaching...These terms, though foreign to me a month ago, have become a regular part of my vocabulary in the past few weeks. Over twenty years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, I’ve taught a lot of children, but I can confidently say that I’m the one learning valuable lessons in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. You may be overwhelmed with the information surrounding the Coronavirus. You might even cringe when you hear someone utter a word that begins with the letter “c”. But I want to share a few positive “c” words that I’ve found to be more viral than this pandemic!
First, I have seen numerous educators display care and compassion for their students. Teachers, administrators, and support personnel all over the state immediately sprang into action when it became evident that children would be out of school indefinitely--not only to ensure they had books and supplies, but to ensure they had access to food. Almost as quickly as the news of school closures spread, I heard stories of men and women whose compassion drove them to set up sites where meals would be distributed to children who needed them.
Secondly, I’ve heard people commend and celebrate educators. Many parents who were suddenly tasked with facilitating distance learning quickly realized how hardworking, creative, passionate, and worthy of respect educators really are! They took to social media “demanding immediate teacher pay raises” and “pleading for homeschool help.” As I read the numerous posts, my heart swelled with pride for all the educators of Mississippi who deserve this praise but rarely receive it.
Lastly, I have seen educators collaborating and coming together. Zoom meetings are happening nearly every hour. Conversations are taking place—across grade levels, departments, and subject areas, that put everyone on a level playing field. Sure, this is uncharted territory and none of us knows what we’re doing. But there is comfort in knowing we can figure it out TOGETHER! It’s ironic to think that what pushed us out of our school buildings forced us to unite. Teachers from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the Mississippi Delta are teaming up to create virtual lessons that will translate from the classroom to the living room. It’s no longer MY school or YOUR district. At least for now, rivalries and ratings aren’t important. We’re all TEACHERS doing what needs to be done so STUDENTS can learn no matter where they are!
In closing, let me say that I couldn’t be more excited about what’s happening across our state right now. Educators like you are stepping out of their comfort zones, being more innovative than ever, and committing themselves to the idea that learning isn’t confined to the walls of a classroom. Let me challenge you to make this “new normal” your “new normal” and when we “go back,” I hope we won’t “go back” to where we were before. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your MPE President and for going on this incredible journey with me!