Lauren Borack, English Teacher, Point Pleasant Boro High School.
When the announcement was made that the schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year, I was in the middle of a group chat with other teachers whom I am friends with. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The only word I could use to describe it was “devastation.” I teach high schoolers, so some of these kids I am not going to see again. I am not going to get a chance to say goodbye to the seniors I have known since freshman year. This is it. I teach juniors and freshmen, so my juniors are missing out on their first prom. The seniors are missing out on their senior prom. They are missing out on their senior picnic, their graduation, their awards ceremony… all the things that make the end of the school year special they are missing out on. My classroom is going to be stuck in March 13th for the rest of the year. It is hard to wrap my head around it.
I don’t know that I thought that was going to be the last day for the year. I was a little naive. I remember that day there was a lot of apprehension. I teach a lot of students with special needs, and I could tell they were more anxious that day, and we were like, ‘Everything will be ok.’ But I didn’t realize the finality of it. It all happened so quickly. I remember talking outside at lunchtime with my principal and we were like, ‘Wow, this is really crazy.’
I’m the momma bear teacher, I am the one kids come to visit 15 times a day to talk about their boyfriends or girlfriends and what is going on at home and that kind of thing. I was always the warm and fuzzy teacher, and I miss them very much. I do the weekly Zoom meetings. The first Zoom meeting after school closed, their faces lit up, they were so excited to see me and each other. But as the weeks go on, the kids are turning off their video, and I think they are really struggling. I get emails every single day: kids that were straight-A students prior to this are struggling now.
For the freshmen I had something called, ‘Candy Friday,” and I would hand out candy to the kids every Friday. But after they closed the school, after 6 weeks of not seeing them, I decided to go to their homes and deliver candy to each of them. Point Boro is a small town, only two square miles. So I wrote each of my freshman a little note, and gave it to each of the kids along with the candy. For these kids this was their first contact with me besides Zoom, and it was so great to see them. Some of them came running out with the biggest smiles. It was a little gesture, but it was important to me for them to know I care about them.
If I had one last day with them, I would want to hug every single one of them and tell them how special they are, how I am always there for them and how much I care about them, and that we will get through this.
- Interview by Gregory Andrus