School hallway

A year ago, as the Hutchinson School District was preparing for distance learning, we were unaware of things to come. As local and global citizens, we have been witnesses to and participants in a historical event. There will be stories told of surviving COVID-19 and remembering those less fortunate. These experiences have touched us all to some degree.

Schools have not been spared from the virus’ reach. After talking to staff, students and parents, one word surfaces: buoyant. It means to stay afloat, rise to the top, be resilient.

A year ago, had I told a teacher I was sending multiple students home and the mode of learning would change, I would have been met with disbelief and confusion. Teachers have experienced disappointment when unable to instruct students in person. Striving to keep student learning moving forward, multiple learning models were employed. Buoyant.

A year ago, if I sent a student home for an extended time, many would likely have been happy, but not anymore. Students want to be in school with their peers and teachers. They too have adapted to multiple learning models. Buoyant.

A year ago, when a parent was called to pick their child up and keep them home for multiple days, they often expressed their frustration. Now they are more willing to do what is in the best interest of others' health and safety. Buoyant.

There is a saying that goes, “We are in the same storm, but not the same boat.” Each person’s circumstances affect their reactions and perceptions of this pandemic. Yet we have banned together to support one another. Buoyant.

The technology learning curve has been steep and fast-paced for educators, students and parents alike. A year ago, we would not have been able to fathom this massive achievement. Buoyant.

I am grateful for our technology support team. With professionalism, they calmly helped us navigate our fears, handle frustrations, learn, grow and build our confidence. They have supported us in becoming better educators. Buoyant.

There have been a variety of losses during this pandemic. Gatherings with family and friends, children’s birthday parties, rites of passages such as graduations, weddings and funerals have been modified or canceled. We have been reminded how important these activities are to our well-being.

We have also rediscovered the benefits of a less hectic schedule. Children are spending more time in creative play, connecting with family, reading and exploring the outdoors. Many have managed with less and others have helped neighbors in need.

At school, we work to instill the lesson that we do not always have control over a situation, but we do have control over how we react to it. This pandemic has challenged us to model for our children healthy ways to respond to change and adversity. Hopefully, the rise and fall of the stormy waters will end soon. Let’s continue to look at each person’s boat with compassion and help one another “keep an even keel” so we can arrive at a safe harbor and calmer waters together.

I am proud to be a member of this buoyant community. Until we meet again, may the wind be at your back, a brighter future on the horizon and clear sailing for the journey.

Mary Getzke is assistant principal at Park Elementary School. Kim Bollin, a title paraprofessional at Park Elementary, assisted with writing this column. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from Hutchinson Public Schools.