Barrows: Congratulations to parents, teachers for persevering during challenging school year

’Tis the season for offering well-deserved congratulations to graduates of the Class of ’21.

And while graduates of all levels deserve to bask in their hard-earned glory, I want to give a shout-out to parents and teachers for making it through a school year fraught with trials and tribulations that none of us had ever experienced.

First, I want to thank teachers for continuing to put our kids first. Some teachers only met their students behind a screen for many months before seeing some of them only twice a week during hybrid learning models. I don’t think most signed up to teach remote students while attending to a group of in-person students simultaneously.

Teachers had to become experts in new technologies and virtual education resources in a matter of weeks, or even days. Assignments and learning goals often had to be changed on the fly, and teachers were forced to pivot between learning models over the past year.

Judging from my experiences with my kids’ teachers, they still cared and were deeply invested in their students’ success. They understood the challenges many were facing, and offered extra help and extended deadlines to help them succeed.

And for that, I thank all the teachers out there who worked tirelessly, sometimes thanklessly, to make the best of this extraordinary school year.

Secondly, kudos to all the parents and families out there that rearranged their schedules when students were forced to learn from home. Lives were upended and many sacrifices were made to try to keep kids engaged in virtual learning, which could be very challenging at times.

I have two teen boys who fell into the “not engaged” category during virtual learning. There was many a shouting match in my home when I got emails from school with a list of their missing work, and when they didn’t virtually “check in” during class times. I was often met with a look of indifference and confusion, as if they didn’t know they had to actually complete work for “remote school” or attend virtual class meetings.

To say this school year has been frustrating is an understatement.

When it mercifully came to an end last week, I cried ugly tears of relief. I felt like I had been holding my breath all year, but once final grades were posted, I was able to finally exhale. While their grades were certainly lower than they would’ve been if this had been a “normal” school year, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought.

They made it. I made it. We all made it, somehow. Lives have been radically changed, sometimes not for the better, but we adapted and persevered.

And for that, parents, teachers, kids, we all deserve a big pat on the back and hearty congratulations.

Now with deep breaths and a sense of gratitude, I’m ready to enjoy the summer.

Aimee Barrows

Aimee Barrows is the editor of the Kane County Chronicle.