I See You

I see you taking my daughter for six and a half hours a day inside the four walls of a classroom covered in each child’s colorful, miraculous art. It is a room you created and made with care and love.  Each year is as individually crafted as the students that come running to your class.

I see you making your room as warm and inviting as you can for your group of first graders.  You are constantly filling the trays with fresh pencils, picking up the paper scraps on the floor, organizing a book collection ancient and old. My daughter remembers her art on your walls and I thank you.

I see you trying to corral 20 kids as they jump out of their seats, throw scissors on the floor, and shout loudly to each other.  You do all of this, while you attempt to individually assess and test each student to make sure they meet district and state standards. It must feel like an impossible task. I thank you for the smile you still continue to wear while going through it.

I see you trying to teach linguistics and reading and the complex language that is English, all with a mask covering your face.

As if you needed any more barriers to teach a group of seven-year-olds with a wide array of learning curves and needs. I see you wearing your mask and I thank you.

I see your English as a Second Language students push themselves so hard to grasp a language that is not their first. They are so bright and so willing to learn. I see the one-on-one help they sometimes need—and I see you give it to them.

I see you navigating through a world of politics that has bled into the fabrics of schools. We are in a pandemic turned endemic and the reality of it at times may seem to batter your soul.

Coming from a year in which some students never once stepped foot inside a classroom, I see you trying to pick up the pieces.

Behavioral issues have been amplified, learning has been lost, and I see the burden of expectations placed on your shoulders.

I see you interacting with that one parent—or these days, more than one parent—and how you always respond with patience and grace. I see you steering through the wavy waters of the lines you must cross between the labels you wear: teacher, administrator, cleaner, nurse, counselor, all the while operating as oftentimes a parent yourself.

I see your weekly emails and appreciate the communication with us as a parent. I read each word and I value the work that you do. I want to know what my daughter is doing during the time she spends with you. I want to be involved, even if I can’t always make it to the classroom to volunteer. I want to know that my daughter is in good hands—and she certainly is with you.

I see you coming home, aching and tired.

I see the papers you must still grade, the tests to analyze, and the phone calls to make to parents. I see you using your breaks to organize for the following day, the copies that need to be made and the supplies that seem to dwindle every day.

I see you get up every day and do it all over again, still smiling, still laughing, still caring for the students that look up to you with stars in their eyes. Like my daughter, they adore you.

You are their hero.

I see you.

And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

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Kelly is a native Californian and has lived up and down the coast, from Santa Cruz to San Francisco to San Diego and has now made her permanent home in Newbury Park. She has a masters in creative writing from San Francisco State University and finds solace and strength in writing about the vulnerability of being a mother. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, gardening, reading and all things cheese--especially a good blue or cheddar. She is married to an amazingly supportive husband and is a stay at home mom to her two wild daughters.

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