This school year has been challenging, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered most school buildings back in March (or earlier). As a result, students and teachers shifted to distance learning. As the school year comes to a close—still from behind computer screens—we asked teachers to share end-of-year messages for young readers. Here’s what three of them had to say.
DINA HAMAOUI, GRADES 1–3 TEACHERIN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
“To my wonderful students and all of you other learners out there reading this:
CONGRATULATIONS on being so close to the end of the virtual school year. You have worked so hard to stay focused and motivated on your schoolwork while also taking care of yourselves and your families during shelter-in-place.
It has not been easy. But you have shown grit, growth mindset, and a great sense of humor. You worked with tricky internet and learned to behave on video calls to get all your work done digitally! I am extremely proud of you, and I know your teachers are as well.
This has been a moment in time that none of us will forget. We will come out of it with strength, flexibility, and appreciation for our communities. What’s next for you? I can’t wait to find out!”
ROBERT ELSTEIN, HIGH SCHOOL THEATER AND ENGLISH TEACHER IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
“I just wanted to let the members of your generation know that the teachers are inspired by you!
Some generations have had the opportunity to live in comfort and peace. But because of these difficult times, you guys are getting the best education you could possibly have — seeing how the world is handling the situation.
I’m proud of you.
I also wanted to acknowledge all of the young artists, writers, actors, designers, musicians, and performers. Some people think that in order to truly tap into the complexity of our world and to relate it honestly, an artist must go through a struggle. And through their struggle they develop that unique perspective from which they may create.
All of you have now experienced an important struggle. Many of us have had it much harder than others. But despite the pain and the discomfort and the fear you all have felt, you are much stronger now than you would have been if our world had kept going at the same pace.
So just keep reading, keep thinking, keep creating, and keep sharing your work — and good things will come!”
ALISON BERTRAND, GRADE 1 TEACHER IN LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON
“Wherever you are in the world, this is for you: Congratulations for all the hard work, long hours, and working through all those frustrations of distance learning. You did it!
Few of us could ever have imagined that 2020 would end up looking like this. Never before in your life, your parents’ life, or even in the life of your grandparents have we ever had to face a pandemic. So much changed, so fast, and all at the same time.
We had to do something, but what? Parents, teachers, and kids all over the world needed to find a new way to do school. For many, it has been the hardest thing we have ever had to do.
‘In this together.’ You heard that a lot. What does it mean? Maybe that instead of focusing on our differences, we appreciate how much we are the same. That no matter how big or small, we can all do our part to help and make life better for someone. You may think that the days have started to feel the same. But think of all you’ve done:
Brothers and sisters became our best friends.
Old toys became new.
Pillow forts built.
Outdoors enjoyed in rain or shine.
Homework in pajamas.
Someday, when we look back to the time of coronavirus, maybe the lesson we will most remember will not be the one our teacher assigned and the one we handed in. Perhaps, instead, the lesson we will remember the most will be how much we appreciate spending time with the people we love.”