We are fortunate determined children who lead our future onward

Learning at Home - California Federation of Teachers

By Angelina M. Gutierrez

Angelina M. Gutierrez

As I sit here on a Sunday morning sipping on my pumpkin spice flavored coffee, thoughts of life before the pandemic play through my mind like a movie reel. I don’t need to tell you how different things are now. We’ve all felt it firsthand. In the before virus life I had worked as a substitute teacher for the Gilroy Unified School District. In the after virus life I struggled to find work.

Almost seven months into the pandemic, and each of us has had to adjust in different ways. By now we have all the safety rules down. No shaking hands, no hugging, try your best to stay six feet apart. So that’s two shopping cart lengths, right? Does hugging my senior citizen mom still count?  What about my sister who lives down the street from me? Can I hold her newborn baby? So many questions have left our hearts a bit more sensitive than they were before this whole thing began.

As we’ve all settled into this not-so-new way of life these days, I’ve especially been in awe with the resilience that the youth of our city have shown. These young lives have been turned upside down just as ours have. One day they were going to school in person and before they knew what was going on, they were told no one was allowed back.

At first, it was like a vacation, but days turned into weeks and weeks into months and the feeling of vacation was over.

When school started up again in August, how odd it must have felt for them to begin the year so different from the way they always have. Still, they did their best. Moving into the month of September there were continued changes the children had to get used to. Friends were missed. The online Zoom sessions were confusing. Students couldn’t concentrate over their dogs barking and their siblings throwing paper balls at their head. The Wi-Fi was giving them issues, and they could only turn in half of their homework. These were just some of the challenges they had to learn to deal with.

Plenty of kids have been left to themselves and their Chrome books, as their dedicated parents have had to leave for work during the day. My husband, who is a teacher at Gilroy High School, told me how he’s amazed at the determination these students have in spite of their circumstances. I’ve heard adults say before that they could never do online college because of the discipline it would take them to attend school without being in a classroom setting and lacking the accountability in person. We have some young, assertive people among us who are doing exactly that. They are being faced with this challenge, and they are conquering it.

Of course, I cannot tip my hat to all of the children without also giving praise to the teachers and everyone involved. They have worked countless hours to make this whole thing possible, and they are the other superheroes in this story.

The teachers believe in each one of these students, and they do it because they know that the current challenges the children are facing are going to turn them into successful adults.

Remember the youth today. Send a text, make a phone call or smile at them in the grocery store and let them know what a great job they’re doing. We are so fortunate that it’s these determined children who will be leading our future onward.

Angelina Gutierrez is a substitute teacher in Gilroy.

Guest Column