Healing the Wound
"At Druid Hills, our staff came together under the leadership of Dr. Mathis and found ways to heal the wound."
The pandemic wounded the educational process. But, this is not necessarily a negative. Wounds make us strong. Wounds give us the chance to grow. To think in new ways. Wounds, if you will, grow new skin literally and figuratively. The wound was not being able to have face-to-face interaction with scholars. At Druid Hills, our staff came together under the leadership of Dr. Mathis and found ways to heal the wound. That is what Alice Walker referred to with her quote, "Healing begins where the wound was made." Many staff members went out into the field to deliver food, solve technology issues or whatever was required. New relationships were formed. New trust was grown. The wound was starting to heal. The educational process had a new skin. Sometimes the skin was bumpy and still is. Everyone has grown stronger in some way.
On Wednesdays, we would have remote learning. One of our second grade teachers asked me to take over an hour every Wednesday morning so she could do testing. We agreed that I would read to the children and work on skills such as beginning, middle and end. I am a library fan and when the libraries opened back up for check out, I would load up on books. When the libraries were closed, I would walk my neighborhood scouring all of the little Free Libraries for children's books to read to the scholars. So, the Wednesday read alouds began with fervor and were met with enthusiasm. Then one Wednesday, a scholar said, "I brought a book to read. May I?" The answer, of course, was yes. And so it began, scholars reading on our Wednesday Zoom read aloud hour. The delight was that scholars who months ago could only read three-letter words were reading whole books. Scholars who were reticent to participate were reading books with pride. The wound was healing.
Much of my early time in the pandemic was spent at Dillehay Courts public housing helping families in a myriad of ways. One of my favorite memories was picking up a scholar to bring to school to take a test as her home Wi-Fi was not "cooperating." I happened to have a Marvin Gaye CD in my car. The young girl sat in the back seat jamming with me to the great music as we drove to school and back. When I dropped her back off at home, she looked at me and said, "Can we do that again?" A special moment for us both. Pulling up into the JT Williams neighborhood and having a former scholar who is now in the upper grades run out to greet me. Just overjoyed to see a human being from school. Truly, the relationship and the human connection is the essence of education. That is where success begins and grows.
I learned that Desmond Tutu's words, "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together," underlined how I have to teach and treat others in this pandemic. There have been many challenges; however, those pale in comparison to the lost lives this world has seen.
We are the guiding light for our scholars. We have to keep shining somehow, some way.
- Stephanie Donnis