Reading, MA — On Friday, June 19, 2020, the 2019-20 school year in Reading will come to a close. As many of us know, though, the hallways of our town’s schools are already quite empty, the classrooms dormant and devoid of their usual characters, teacher’s desks now have relocated to some random part of their house, and the typical backpacks thrown into lockers are now sitting, without purpose, in the corners of our homes. There is no Field Day, no day to sign yearbooks, no chance to hug friends, colleagues, and teachers, no graduation, no nostalgia, no last day of school pool parties, or get-togethers.
Despite all this, though, Reading’s teachers have done their best to close out the year in a way that offers some of the same old glitter and glory. William MacIndewar, a 7th grade Science teacher at Parker Middle School said that his team is putting together a trivia game, a quarantine bingo, a scavenger hunt, and their staple end-of-year slideshow that I still clearly remember from my time on the Costa Team, as well as a chance for teachers and students alike to reflect on the past few months. Audra Williams, an English teacher at Reading Memorial High School, also explained that one thing she has made a point to do with her students is to have them reflect on the past year, and really think about what they have learned and how they have changed.
Celebrations aside, though, many teachers in the Reading schools are naturally upset that this is how they will finish out their school year. As Ms. Williams perfectly put it, “Saying farewell to students and colleagues over a computer screen just isn’t the same as a hug or a high five.” For many teachers, the end of the year is a time to honor their students’ hard work and wind down for a good summer with their families and friends. Mr. MacIndewar explained that “It’s very difficult not celebrating the end of the year in person with our students, but it’s still important for us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students as best as we can.”
When June 19 comes, though, that sense of relief and accomplishment that many teachers usually feel at the end of a long and hard year may be a bit less pronounced. As a graduating senior who knows many of this town’s teachers quite well, and as an aspiring educator myself, I could not possibly be more proud of this town’s teachers. You have weathered the present storm. You became the Swiss-Army knife we all needed during this time. And it’s okay if you didn’t do it perfectly. As our town’s teachers always have, you did your best. You showed up for your students when they needed you and that’s what matters.
So, here’s to the end of one heck of a crazy school year. And here’s to the coming together of a community during a hard time.