Kids Need Support to Overcome Crises and Strive for a Better Future

Guest Correspondence

BY ES SWIHART, RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER AND EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY BOARD MEMBER SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 4, 2020

Editor's Note: Education Foundation of Sarasota President Jennifer Vigne asked Es Swihart to pen this month's column on behalf of the organization. "With our shared focus on the impact of COVID-19, I am devoting the following space to a teacher’s perspective written by Es Swihart, who serves as a teacher representative on the Education Foundation of Sarasota County board of directors. Thank you for your support of our work to “help all of our children,” as Es so eloquently writes." Vigne writes.

As schools across the country began to close as a precaution against COVID-19, teachers took to social media with concerns about our kids. 

What about the children who rely on meals through the school system? How will kids without access to technology complete their school year? What about children living in chaotic or traumatic homes? How will this crisis affect their well-being?  

Teachers know firsthand that while all children have challenges, some children have more challenges than others. In the midst of a crisis, these challenges come to the forefront. It is worth remembering that once we have moved through these hard and unknown times, those challenges will remain and some even will be exacerbated.   

While it’s tempting sometimes to roll our eyes and give a “kids these days” shake of the head at young people, it’s a worthy practice to remember that once we were part of the generation subjected to head shakes from our elders.  

It’s even more worthwhile to remember that some of those “darn kids” are young people who maintain strong grades while working 30 hours a week to help feed their families. Those heroic young people who spend “free time” parenting their siblings in their parents’ absence. The “darn kids” who are surviving environments where neglect or abuse are realities.  

In my nearly a decade and a half in the classroom, our children have taught me much about strength and spirit. And while we should celebrate the awards and tournaments and campaigns won by hard-working young people, we also should look to the resiliency, grit, and grace of the student who gets himself to school every day, without adult help or support, and strives to do his best.  

If my time in the classroom has shown me the obstacles that impede achievement and access for many of our students, my time working on the board at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County has taught me the impact that outside support has on the lives of students and the necessity of community coming together to offer this support.

As we all work together during this time of crisis, may we take that same spirit of community and kindness into the future. Our community is only as strong as the greatest struggles within it. Together we must help all of our children overcome obstacles, benefit from education, and strive for a better future.  

Es Swihart is an English and International Baccalaureate teacher at Riverview High School and was the 2018 district Teacher of the Year.

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