I really thought I’d have the opportunity to say goodbye to my students and coworkers. March 12 was a Thursday, and the state’s plan to close schools gave almost no time to prepare. My department quickly brainstormed plans and began downloading class materials onto students’ computers knowing many wouldn’t have access at home. Schools were initially shut down for six weeks, so that’s how far out we planned. We’re still here over two months later, living this new normal, and trying to keep all of our students above water.
I teach high school history. School is where children often feel most safe, where their learning disabilities and health concerns are spotted, and where many get their meals. I worry for my students. I know no matter how much effort is put into online lessons, videos, etc, that we can never make up for those personal connections, their social and emotional growth.
This pandemic has shone a greater light on our inequities and the need for change. The digital divide is very real. We have students that sit outside to use businesses Wi-Fi to access class materials and take AP exams. Mental health programs are needed now more than ever and we must increase their availability. The trades have been too long ignored and need to be brought back into schools. It is obvious now more than ever that we must do better for ALL of our children. Advocating for them is my mission, and why I'm running for State Representative.
The last time I saw my students I told them to stay safe and I'd see them in six weeks. Now I wish I had said out loud what I felt, and that’s that I love them.
-Jamie Smith, Candidate for State Representative of the 25th LD, Position 1, D