As a high school teacher, I spend a fair amount of time trying to keep up with the memes my students see. Lately, it’s all been Covid-19, and a lot of it is school related. “We’re all homeschoolers now” one person jokes. “If kids are excited to have school cancelled for a virus, maybe there’s something wrong with the system” jibes another. “Me hoping for a day off school before Coronavirus vs me actually in quarantine during Coronavirus” declares a picture of a celebrating movie character next to one that is crying.
That last one fits best with the look I saw in my students’ eyes the last day I got to see them, as we realized we were looking at who knows how many weeks apart. And it wasn’t just fear or anticipation, there was grief there… and not just with the seniors who were struck by all the timeless school traditions we have built and honored that were suddenly thrown into question. It was from everyone. As much as students may complain about school, deep down they realize there is something about being able to greet each other each morning at the lockers, discussing ideas instead of leaving them echoing in your head, or sharing a laugh while eating. Suddenly you can’t lean over to the person next to you and ask for help, your teacher won’t stop you in the hall and encourage you for something they saw, you won’t taste the sweet taste of a team victory, or even the unifying pain of defeat.
If it seems like school just isn’t the same right now, that is because it isn’t. God meant us to be whole together – the school works in conjunction with the family and the church, and that is how God designed it. We are better together. Calvin is not just information and assessments, it is the unwritten curriculum of learning how to live together in God’s world as we love each other well.
The world is broken by sin and disease, but together, we work to build something even in the midst of this uncertainty. Right now, that is the Calvin difference, and everyone plays a part. The board offers to help anyone who is struggling. Administration pulls together a distance education plan in mere days. We pray for each other and lift each other up and celebrate the things that have stayed the same.
The students are the same – they show up to Zoom classes playing the trumpet to make everyone laugh, they miss assignments and make them up, they exceed expectations on a presentation video, they privately trust you with what is going on in their world, they grow even in adversity and amaze me every day. Students are learning.
The teachers are the same – they are passionate and accomplished educators who are in some ways thrown out of their comfort zones, and in another still find themselves completely at home creatively crafting an education in whatever madness the days throw at them. They are not leaving parents to just “homeschool” their children, they are producing videos, learning new technologies, experimenting with entirely different assessments and they are answering every question that comes their way. Teachers are teaching.
And ultimately, God is the same. What is true in the light is true in the dark, and God says of all this “this is mine.” No brokenness cannot be turned for good even when it is impossible to see how yet. But here is dreaming that Calvin can be a beacon of hope to our community in this time: not succumbing to fear, but loving well like the preschoolers that made a parade for their teacher while keeping social distance, learning well like the incredible videos my Sociology students made about how each sociological paradigm would view this global pandemic, and trusting God well, like the remarkable senior who said of all the chaos “God is using it for something, I continue to search for the good.”
True education cannot be reduced to a text on a screen, but it starts with a fear of God and settles into our hearts and changes our lives. This teacher’s heart, for one, cannot thank you enough for taking this journey together.