Educators and staff in the K-12 school system attend to children well beyond the bell, forming
a safety net that’s both critical and fragile. When COVID-19 closed schools in 2020, time-tested systems fell apart. But educators swung into action, modeling resourcefulness and resilience for their students. In April, when we put out a call for educators and other school employees whose work made students’ pandemic learning experience better, we were optimistic that the chaotic academic year would be the last of its kind. But now, before some schools have even started, the coming year is in flux.
Glenda Moton, English teacher | North Miami, Fla.
Glenda Moton says the pandemic changed everything about her job. She taught English to ninth-graders whose first year of high school was upended by the pandemic, and she worried there wasn’t enough focus on how they were managing. “Did anyone really sit down and ask the kids, ‘How are you feeling? What’s going on?’” she says.
Moton, 66, turned those questions into an assignment, asking her students at North Miami Senior High School to write about their pandemic experience, and then publishing their work in a book. “It was important that I hear their voice, their story, so that I could help them conquer some of those fears and be able to have a successful year,” says Moton. In poetry and prose, students described worries about losing family members and finding that “nothing will ever be the same again.” They also voiced hopes: for a COVID-19 cure, reunions with friends, and “a better and healthier world.”