I feel like I’ve been through the wringer the last few weeks! I hope that you and your families are all doing well. I can’t believe that spring break is almost over! Ha!

At the end of a normal school year, I have to mentally prepare myself to let that group of students go. Throughout the year, I develop such a strong stewardship for their education and I feel a huge responsibility to make sure they have learned everything I want to teach them. If I don’t mentally prepare at the end of the year to let them go, it’s too hard. During the last quarter, from March through May, everything culminates and we do the most fun learning activities as a legit class family. We know each other so well by that point and I’ve had many students tell me even as high schoolers and beyond that that time was the most fun learning time of their lives and that memories were made that they will never forget.

So when our school year was cut short, I wasn’t mentally prepared to let your kids go! To say I was devastated would be an understatement. Up to that point in my life, I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed so much for something as much as I prayed to be able to move up with this class to be able to have that end of the year with them finish what we started. It couldn’t have happened without Mrs. Baker, Dawsen’s mom, agreeing to switch grades with me. I don’t think I can ever thank you enough, Mrs. Baker!

But then coronavirus cases in Arizona soared in June, and I knew the beginning of the school year was in jeopardy. I was so worried and started to wonder how I could effectively start the year online if it came to that. I was even more grateful that I had the same class because can you imagine trying to build relationships with young students that you don’t know or haven’t even met? It just seemed impossible to me! And I truly believed that I would not be even 10% as effective at teaching online as I am in person.

I mentioned the stewardship I feel for your kids. It’s unique to continue feeling that stewardship throughout a summer! But it’s now as strong as ever. In my mind, I was thinking of every possible way that I could make an online learning environment as effective as possible. How do I make it so that they’re not just sitting in front of a screen for 6 hours a day? How do I connect with them? How do I get them to feel the sense of accomplishment that they feel in class? How do I make sure they feel loved by their teacher? It seemed like a herculean or even impossible task and I was coming up with so many blanks. I heard of so many failed online experiences the last two weeks, including from my sister and her kids. How could I make sure that my students and I don’t fail?

So I prayed maybe even harder than I did in May that somehow, schools would be able to open. I did get to the point a few days ago that I was pretty certain that ALA would open its doors. Then when I heard the news today of ALA’s plans to open for both in-person and online learning and how they are handling it all, I can’t even begin to tell you the relief I felt! I feel that it is so important that parents have a choice, and ALA is able to reasonably give them that choice. I’ve talked to a couple of you who may not be ready to come back quite yet and I totally get that.

In my 18 years of teaching, I’ve never gone without teaching for more than two and a half months. This has been more than double that and I can’t even begin to express how much I miss it. On Monday, I will appreciate standing in front of a class and teaching them more than I ever have. I have never been more grateful to be a teacher than I will be on that day. Yes, I’ll have to wear a face covering, but at this point, I’d stand on my head all day if I had to. If that’s the price I have to pay to return to doing what I love most, I’ll gladly pay.

I am so grateful to work for this amazing organization. I was so impressed with ALA’s complete and careful consideration of all benchmarks, not only from the state but also from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I am so impressed with their mitigation plan to keep students and staff safe, which you can read here. If you haven’t received an email from ALA yet, you should still be receiving it today. We are going to do everything we can to make our school the safest place it can possibly be!

I am so grateful for you and your children. Even though this is going to be a unique school year in so many ways, I have no doubt that it is going to be the Best Year Ever!!! I am so excited for it to start in just six days!

More information to follow. See you all soon!