From Ms. Acosta to all her students: Stay safe until we meet again
The Friday I learned I wouldn’t be substitute teaching anymore because the schools were shutting down due to COVID-19, I didn’t know I’d be here in my living room a full two months later in quarantine.
In quarantine, I think of my students. Some I saw only once or twice, some I saw again and again, but their faces, their stories and the love I have for each of them is with me. I can’t help but wonder whether they were able to access healthy food today or get some exercise. I wonder if the financial issues they tried to alleviate for their family by working for additional income are being felt more heavily. I wonder if those who come from homes where abusive family members rule are able to hold on to their mental health. I wonder how the students with undocumented parents, perhaps essential workers, are faring. I am sure they worry for them.
What I miss most is being there for the youth who didn’t usually receive respect from adults. The ones who push you at first and find a soft place to land. Those were the ones who always smiled the biggest at the end of the day and told me I was a good teacher. It was my goal to reach the students who put up the toughest shields, because those are the ones who need the most compassion and empathy.
To every youth I have ever taught, I want to send you a big hug and thank you for existing. I may have been your teacher, but you taught me more about authenticity, resilience and humor than I ever could have learned on my own. When you challenged me, I became a better educator, and when I gained your respect, I knew I was going in the right direction.
I can’t wait to see your faces, both new and familiar, again. I can’t wait to shake your hand, hug you, listen to you, answer your questions and encourage you when you ask for help. Until we see each other again try to stay safe, whether that means staying inside or protecting yourself by wearing a mask when you work, exercise or get groceries.
You are important and I look forward to seeing you again. I wish you happiness, health and protection from harm.
Love, Ms. Acosta