The Invisible Heroes

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March 14, 2020 will forever be engraved on my heart. This was last day that children walked the halls of their schools free of Covid. The emotions that ripped through our staff with the later announcement of school closures left us unsure and scared. When will we see our students again? How will we navigate education without their presence? As the weeks passed, it was clear that normal school days were not in our near future, and that we were in this for the long haul. As we wrapped up the school year in the distance learning model, the planning did not stop. There were teacher parades, videos and virtual goodbyes. Summer was welcomed like never before. We were exhausted in all capacities.

The long, sunny days let us escape the land of Covid and brought joy and hope. We needed this; all of us. As the 2020-2021 school approached, feelings of disbelief took over. I think many of us believed this nightmare would come to close before the beloved welcome back! Once again, the reality of this virus reared its ugly head. The planning and implementation of mandates, procedures, and guidelines was nothing short of a miracle as we were given the green light to get back into the classroom with our students. Some every day, some part time and some not at all. The ever changing schedules brought a whole new meaning to adaption. Most will agree that the folks working behind the scenes and those on the frontlines are champions! There were many long days accompanied with tears to make it all happen.

As the school year progressed, learning models changed, and eventually we were all home yet again. Our personal household hosted daily Google Meets times three; my eight year old daughter can now host, invite and present these Meets with zero assistance. One day shortly before Christmas, I was logging off a Meet with some students and the image of my 15 year old son took my breath away. There he was, in his first year of high school, looking at a screen filled with boxes of names, listening to his teacher tirelessly do all he could to engage these students. High school Meets looked much different then elementary; no one turns on their camera and no one talks. After catching my breath, I had to find a place to hide. And cry. How did we missed this? How have we not acknowledged them? We were all too busy focusing on OUR hardships and complaining about OUR situation to recognize the heroes that showed up every single day. The ones who graciously accepted the changes and cancellations. The ones who, day after day, showed us what it means to look beyond ourselves. We had forgotten to recognize our kids.

This past year my son has not once complained about the situation we’re facing. He has never blamed anyone for the alterations he’s been asked to make. His world has be rocked yet continues he to teach me sacrifice for the good of all. As we enter month 13 of this Covid world, let’s take time to honor the kids. Show them the love, grace and compassion they rightfully deserve.

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Amy Luethmers is Minnesota native, yet can't seem to get on board with the cold winters! Amy and her husband, Steve, have been married for 12 years, and love calling Mankato home. She and Steve have two children that couldn't be more different. Isaac, 11, is their rule-following, kind- hearted son who enjoys swimming and reading. Amelia, 4, who challenges every rule, can be found singing and dancing just about any time of the day. Amy is a paraprofessional with the Mankato school district, and believes that every child deserves the chance to be successful. She is committed to being active daily, and early morning runs with girlfriends is her favorite way to stay fit!

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