We made it! This is the last week of work for many of my fellow teachers, and here at the University, we just finished our commencement ceremony. I’m not sure I can convey to you the grand challenge that this school year has been, but trust me, it was.
Taking some time this last couple of days to relax, I realize how high my anxiety level has been. It was high for so long I stopped noticing it. I remember looking at my new college students, some of them first-year students or transfer students and new to the university themselves. They wanted to learn but had to deal with stress, anxiety, emotions, and sometimes sickness all at the same time. We were fortunate that our students were face-to-face all year, the ones that choose to attend school. The students had the option of being online if they needed to or felt it was in their best interest. However, they came, wherever they were, I taught them. I taught them as they sat at desks away from one another. I taught them from behind a hanging piece of plexiglass. I taught them from under a mask, while they wore masks as well. I taught them from the other side of a computer screen, simultaneously as students in the classroom. I taught them from videos I made in the middle of the night. I taught them while passing out hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.
What I remember most is how big and unsettled their eyes were and how I secretly wondered if they would get sick. If I was going to get sick. I taught them through an ugly election, rioting, and no spring break. Amid such awfulness, my courses did well, and I felt like I was making connections in Emporia and with my students.
On this morning, I am sitting here looking at pictures of a house I might purchase, to further put down some roots in this town. I’m thankful I made a move to Emporia last year and thankful that God guided this teacher through the storm and onto another year.
I teach future art teachers at Emporia State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.