Monday, June 1, 2020

Saying goodbye to Presentation High School and the end of the coronavirus 2019-2020 school year

This is the last day of the 2019-2020 school year, and my last year of teaching at Presentation High School in San Jose. I don't usually post about work on my blog, but because of the pandemic, I can't share my thoughts and feelings face to face with my Pres family, so I'm doing it here. 

I want to thank Diane Rosenthal and Marcy Ray for hiring me over Skype in June 2014 (while I was on my lunch break at the APES reading)! It's been six years! You took a chance on me that I will always be grateful for! 

Thank you to everyone in the Pres community for welcoming me when I arrived in California. You gave me a place to take part in the shared work you were doing, and also gave me space to make part of that work my own. You are an amazing group of people who inspire, empower, and educate our students. Keep lighting the way and inspiring change in academics, and social and environmental justice. Nano would be proud! 

The coronavirus changed the way I taught this year, online and at a distance, and the way I thought about teaching. What are the essentials we need in our curriculum and in our lives? How do we make sure we can all access those essentials? The coronavirus crisis also brought my student's needs into focus in a new way. I was very aware of their ability, or not, to connect to me, to each other, to the internet. I was aware of how much we all needed to connect in every literal and metaphorical way. How school was a safe space for them and home might not be. I missed my students' energy, goofiness, and passion when I didn't get to see them in person. I miss my students now, especially the graduating seniors. I miss them every year, but, class of 2020, we went through *trial by pandemic* together. That has bonded us in a special and unique way. I hope we have the opportunity to come together once we've reached the other side of this pandemic to: process, mourn, commune, and regenerate our connection to each other and the Pres community. We need it! 

At Pres I met so many people who inspire me as educators, as people, but also as mothers. I became a mom and met my Mom Tribe while working at Pres. Thank you Andrea, Sarah, Jessica, Laura, Nicole, Laura, and Sherrie for raising your babies with me, through the good and bad, and inspiring me every day! We are also bonded FOR LIFE. You can't escape me! You and your children will always be a part of me and a part of Nell. <3

One last shout out to the Pres science department! We did a lot of brainstorming sessions, laughing, and commiserating before the pandemic, and just kept going afterwards, which made distance learning in a crisis seem ok, and in many ways, not too bad. I never felt alone. I always felt supported. I always felt like I could support my students. And that is due, in large part, to you. Thank you! I will miss working with you--Diane, Wendy, Tracy, Jordan, Mary Clare, Suzanne, Alyssa, Nohora--so much! You are my colleagues and friends and so much more. I hope we can laugh and cry and hug in person soon.

I've been living and teaching remotely in Colorado for the last few weeks. But after this school year, I'll transition from teaching kids to writing for them. I'll be back to writing YA sci-fi full-time! I am very excited! My school experiences will now be relegated to volunteering in Nell's classrooms and keeping up my credentials just in case I'm needed back in the classroom. I'm excited about that too.

Congratulations class of 2020 wherever you are! And congratulations to Pres for making it through this year. 

Sending wishes for health and safety to you all!

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