To the college student:
Zoom sucks. Moving out of the dorms mid-semester sucks. Not getting tuition reimbursement or being included on the stimulus checks sucks. However, we will get through it. It will get easier. We know it sucks and we know it is not easy. We must stay positive and stay focused. We are working towards are dream jobs... our dream lives. We cannot give up now. Class registration for summer and fall just opened up. Get excited, pick the classes you want, take something new. Most colleges still plan on opening for in-seat classes in the fall. We will all be together once again. All 400 of us in smelly auditoriums, watching Greys Anatomy on the girls' laptop four rows in front of us instead of listening to the lecture. I miss you guys so much. I miss complaining about waking up for 8 ams and I miss walking half way across campus. I miss thinking I am going to skip class and then remembering that if I go, I can get Starbucks on the way. This is a struggle for us, but it will be okay in the long run. We've got this.
If you are a graduating college student this semester, I am so sorry. I can't even imagine. You have worked for 4+ years for this. Just remember that you still did it. You still made it. You're still graduating even if it's not in the most traditional way. We are still proud of you. CONGRATULATIONS!!
To the high school student:
Prom and graduation may have been postponed. You did not know your last day of school was your official last day of school, but that doesn't mean give up. Stay on top of your school work and stay hopeful. It's not over yet. You will get your big day in some way. Class of 2020- you have endured four of the hardest years of your life. You have grown and learned so much. You have made life long friends. You have played sports and joined clubs. You have thousands of memories. You have college to look forward to. You have tech school, basic training, or the job of your choice to look forward to. Let me tell you, moving out and doing life on your own is AMAZING. Do not let virtual school mess you up. AP exams just got put online and are open book. Finals will be easier. You can watch Netflix while taking notes! It's really easy. Just stay focused and work hard. You are weeks from being done. You are weeks from really starting the greatest years of your life.
Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshman-
You still have so much to look forward to. You have fall sports, you have homecoming, you have the first day and last day of school pictures. You have endless conversations to have while sitting at the lunch tables. You have endless memories to make in those halls. You have plenty of more ugly school yearbook pictures to take. It is not over. You must stay focused and stay positive to make it through this. Please do not let the lack of motivation mess you up and ruin the future you have. Please do not let it mess up your GPA, your eligibility for sports teams, and your love of learning.
It may not feel like we are in this together. It may feel like the administration has no idea what they are doing and it may feel like your teachers are assigning hundreds of assignments. Truth is none of us know what we are doing. It's hard and we are figuring it out together. We are all losing motivation and none of us want to do this anymore. However, it is your responsibility to get your work done. Teachers should not have to make it easier and give you less, because you are too unmotivated to do your work. If you have time to complain, drive around town with friends, or even protest against your school, you have PLENTY of time to do your classwork. If you see a decline in your grades, it's on you. If you are usually a straight-A student, but now you have a D in all your classes, ask yourself what you can do to do better. You must find your motivation and keep moving forward. It's hard, but the storm shall pass. While we are all in the same storm, our boats are very different. I don't know who said that first, but it's very true. You may feel like the world is sitting on your shoulders. Your parents may be essential and you are taking care of your siblings while they are working. You may be essential and trying to balance work and virtual learning. You may be battling coronavirus or worrying about someone who has it. You may not have wifi. You may have family issues. Whatever it is, boats are made to float. It may be a struggle to get to the other side, but you will make it. Slowly but surely. Online school is not easy. It will never be easy, especially when it wasn't something you chose to do, but it will end soon and you will make it through. You will be better for it. You will have proven that you can adapt to some of the hardest and most unexpected changes. You will come out of this a stronger person. I believe in you. The world believes in you. We all want to make it through this. Keep your head above the water and keep on swimming. You've got this.
Thank you for being our in-home teacher, lunch lady, and sole provider. We will make it through this. Your child will go back to school and you will be able to stop hiding in the bathroom. Encourage your child to stay on top of their work, ask their teachers questions, and never lose motivation. Things are complicated. You have no idea what the heck to cook for dinner, let alone what a quadratic equation is. You have no idea how to entertain your five, eight, and sixteen year old. They all have different needs. You may feel like you're failing. You may feel like you have no clue what you can do, but it's okay. Use this time to hug us a little tighter. Use this time for puzzles, walks, and good quality family time. Use this time to teach your son how to mow the lawn and count that as his gym class for the day. Bake a cake or draw a family picture, that's art. You got this. Take a breath and remember that we love you and that we thank you for all you do, even if we don't realize it now.
Teachers and Professors:
We will never truly understand how hard you work for us. We will never see the countless hours you spend at home trying to figure out lesson plans, instead of spending time with your own children. We will never be grateful enough for the hours you spend grading our papers. Thank you, because to me you are one of the most essential workers, even if you aren't standing in front of a classroom. You put in so much time and effort to make this transition as easy as possible. You know it is hard. You know we are struggling. While it may seem like we are hating every minute, we are still grateful for the education you are providing us. We will never see how badly you miss your students. We will never know how much you were looking forward to smiling as every one of your students walked across that stage at graduation. I know you can't say goodbye to every student who's hearts you've touched, even though you really wanted to. Just know that they will never forget you. They may forget everything you've taught them, but they will never forget the happiness you placed in their hearts.
I know teachers are struggling just as much as everyone else, but it will get easier for you too. Hundreds of smiling faces will walk into your classroom next year. Everyone will be so grateful to be back in those gray halls because we all know what it is like to not see them anymore. A couple of lost months with your students does not mean you have failed as a teacher. Not knowing what your lesson plans for next week are does not mean you have failed as a teacher. Having your kids ask you questions in the middle of your zoom meeting with your students does not mean you have failed as a teacher. Stop sitting up stressing until 3 am. It will all be okay. You are struggling just like everyone else in the world right now. Do not give up.
WE WILL MAKE IT TO THE END OF THIS. WE WILL BE OKAY. LIFE WILL GO ON.
<3 Karen VanBelkum