by Rachel M. Thompson
Health and PE teacher, Old Donation School
Friday, March 13, will ever be known as the day the world shut down, or at least in my mind. Back up 24 hours and I was dropping my husband off at the airport to fly to California to visit our son who is stationed at Camp Pendleton and watch our daughter play softball. My husband was literally in the air and the NCAA started canceling events, then canceling seasons, then the shutdown of schools began, and the rest is history. I had only felt that feeling in those first few days one time before…. It was 19 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001.
Our schedule pre-COVID was nonstop. I would wake up at 4:30 a.m., attend Hot Yoga for an hour, then head to work. Walking in the doors at 7:15 a.m. ready to conquer the day. First things first, Question of the day written on the white board, Quote of the day written on the hallway board, write lesson on the board, get any equipment out that is needed for the lesson, meet with staff to talk about the day, enter students. The silence quickly turns into an audible sound bite times five hundred. The students move in and out of the gym throughout the day like a scene being fast-forwarded from a movie. And all of a sudden, it is 3:39 p.m. and the bell rings. Depending on the day, I would either stay after school to lead staff workouts or sponsor intramurals or head to pick up my youngest daughter for soccer practice. No matter what day it was, we were never home before 7 p.m. Dinner would be eaten, and our heads would hit the bed, too soon to wake up again in a few hours to the sound of the next morning and another day.
Over the last 10 weeks I have had a lot of time to reflect on time and how important it is. With the new dawning of having to teach virtually for the remainder of this school year: it has been a process to get into a new routine and find a new normal. For my family that has included working out more than one time a day, more so for our mental health than our physical health. The benefit of being a physical education teacher has come in quite handy. Virtual teaching has taken on new meaning, I have dug into my personal trainer bag and pulled out more than a few tricks: daily workouts uploaded to YouTube, personal workout challenges, citywide fitness challenges, etc. In an attempt to not only find a new normal but establish normalcy.
Looking back now on the life of Rachel M. Thompson pre-COVID 19, things were overwhelmingly busy due to the constant hustle and bustle of society and the world surrounding us, it definitely makes me appreciate the normalcy, the community, the reality of a person to person conversation, the noise, the student to student interaction.
My new normal continues to embrace a sense of community whether that is virtually or not. I have chosen to embrace the needs of our community from a distance in any way that I can: whether that is teaching staff workouts three days a week via zoom or hosting weekly staff gatherings on Friday afternoon or providing daily opportunities for my own children to learn and apply life skill. Our sense of community has definitely changed; however, it has not been lost. It has honestly been refreshing to see so many people lend a helping hand to those in need: from school lunches, to Wi-Fi hot spots to daily/weekly check in with students who are struggling with anxiety over change.
“When Schools Are Closed” is an ongoing guest column that anyone in the VBCPS community may contribute to. If you are interested in writing about how the school closing is affecting your daily routine, please contact Sondra Woodward in the Department of Communications and Community Engagement.