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Photo Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

On a cool October day in 2016, I sat with two colleagues and discussed the presidential election. As people who regularly engaged in politics, we were concerning ourselves with the larger impact of the election of Trump as the GOP candidate. Far ahead of our time, we wondered, was this the death of the GOP?

Fast forward four years, and here we are. Make no mistake, Trump did not destroy the GOP. Members of the party contributed to its continual decline over decades. …


My Top 4 Priorities

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Photo Credit: Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Imagine the end of the pandemic. We have lived so long in the midst of this turmoil it is certainly hard to even fathom going back to normal life. And yet, perhaps this is why we must imagine our lives post-pandemic. What will you value? How will your life change? What will you do that you have missed so much?

Over the course of the year, we have lost so much of our normal lifestyle. From travel to movies to happy hours, we can no longer live in the way we want. Socializing and being out in the world changed drastically. I have family members specialize in scientific research and some in the medical field. As a result of our conversations, I know this virus is not to be taken lightly, and I have remained in a tight social bubble for the past 8 months. …


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Photo Credit: Photo by 小胖 车 on Unsplash

On the first day, we saw her, I thought she was a bit “off”. You know, mentally. Walking along the road wearing a pink bunny costume is not a normal activity people do.

It was my first day back to work after working from home for months. I expected a lot of traffic because that used to be the “norm”, but there was none. Few schools have moved back to in-person, and those who work in the city are still working from home.

I live in a fairly rural area of Maryland. We have few sidewalks except in planned developments, and most people drive to their destination even if it is less then a mile away. Walking roadside seems odd at best. The main road through my zip code is a state highway, and we use it to get everywhere, within the area and out. …


Toilet paper. Everyone missed toilet paper last spring.

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Photo by Author

Toilet paper. Everyone missed toilet paper last spring. Honestly, the Mid-Atlantic should have seen it coming. Every time we have a potential snowstorm brewing, toilet paper, bread, and milk are the first to disappear from grocery shelves. In fact, the blizzard of 1996 left the Mid-Atlantic paralyzed and grocery stores completely empty-no meat, no milk or dairy products, and certainly no toilet paper. A sight I had never seen before until the pandemic.

In 1996, however, the issue was simply the supply chain. Roads were impassable with feet of snow blocking even Interstates. Last spring was more complex. The virus spread throughout the world, impacting the supply chain, the production lines, and everyone in between. With the uptick in the virus this winter, should we begin to stock up? …


We hadn’t seen this for months

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Photo credit: Robert Collins on Unsplash

I spent months of last spring staring at sad and lonely faces through my flat computer screen. I tried my best to boost the students’ moods. I tried to create interesting projects, but the kids lacked energy. I put them in breakout rooms and let them just chat. I cracked jokes, but each one fell flat. At the end of every day, I was exhausted and yet still brainstorming ideas to uplift the kids.

As the weeks wore on, students became more and more down. They longed for connection and missed regular school. Virtual school was no match for being in-person. We held hope for quite some time that we might possibly be able to return to in-person school at the end of the year. Those hopes were dashed in early May when the Governor nixed the idea. …


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Photo Credit: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Are you suffering from pandemic fatigue? Are you stuck in a rut? Frustrated that you cannot gather with friends for happy hours? Worried about the holidays and if you will be able to travel or visit with people you love? Maybe, now is the time for a project.

I have spent the last 7 months working tirelessly either teaching children over Zoom or preparing to teach children over Zoom. I have traversed the ups and downs of a steep emotional rollercoaster as school deliberated returning to in-person learning. …


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Photo Credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash

You will hear it every day. From political pundits to average voters, Americans are comparing this election to the one in 2016. Hillary won this state; Trump won that state. These states are a toss-up just like in 2016. However, this year’s election is nothing like 2020, and we cannot compare our current state of affairs to the political environment four years ago.

First of all, states are recording record turn-out. As we have seen in videos across the country, voting lines are hours long and stretch for blocks and blocks. This, even though most states have very organized and adequate absentee balloting measures to allow voters to cast their ballot weeks in advance. In addition, the lines you see are early voting; people want their vote to be cast before the rush of Election Day. According to the ElectProject, two states, Hawaii and Texas, have already recorded higher voter turnout than in the entire 2016 total vote. …


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Photo Credit: Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

I have read all of the books. Gratitude is the key. I had a gratitude journal. I wrote every morning about my gratitude. And yet prior to the pandemic, the practice fell flat with me. Of course, I was grateful, but I couldn’t help feeling a sense of lack in my life.

Then the pandemic hit. Life as I knew it came to a halt. My teenagers were stuck at home with me 24/7 and could not connect in real life with friends. My son’s spring term senior year was a wash. No parties, no prom, no true graduation. My daughter’s sports stopped, and she could no longer attend swim practice. …


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Photo credit: Zack Marshall on Unsplash

My colleague and I have had a running joke for the past 4 years. Each time it seems the US may engage in war, like with North Korea or Iran, or some policy is initiated that condemns the likes of us, we joke about leaving the country. We have joked about settling on Caribbean islands, traversing to Canada or Europe, but mostly, we prefer isolated castles on remote islands to stay away from all of the vitriol and chaos that seems to be heading our way. …


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Photo credit: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

We recently returned to in-person school for three days each week. In that time, I have found myself raptured by conversation with my colleague, Kirk. We spend hours in my classroom conversing, collaborating, and problem-solving. Time flies quickly, and we find ourselves having to return to the daily matters of teaching.

Some of our conversation is catching up after 7 months isolated and apart. We have a fifteen year professional relationship, and we have taught each other’s children. We would often sit and collaborate in my classroom prior to the pandemic, and doing so enabled us to create of our most successful school programs. But these conversations today are somehow different. I have realized that we were both starved for this type of connection. The daily interactions we, as humans, have with those around us. …

About

Jennifer Smith

Dreamer. Water lover. Educator. And mom. @Jennifer_Smith5

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