How SHS Staff Are Dealing with Coronavirus

Here are some updates from staff members at Sharon High!

Mara Georgi (SHS History/AP Psych Teacher)

I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years; it’s an important part of my identity so it is very strange to be at home in the middle 3rd term. I miss seeing many of my students. I wish I could see folks regularly and know what’s going on in Sharon. I continue to do work for my classes. I also spend a few hours each day on the phone with people I care about.

I’m getting more exercise and eating more healthily than I typically do this time of year. I’m talking more regularly to my friends in different states.

I hope that as this shutdown drags on, people remember that what’s good for themselves, their friends, and their family might not be what is best for others. Please be empathetic and think about others whose lives are different than yours. Do the hard thing on social media — be tolerant of others’ beliefs, disagree with the idea not the person, and don’t write anything online you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read!

Andrea d’Entremont (SHS School Counselor)

While being at home is nice and my days with my two dogs, my husband and my youngest son are filled with walks and hikes, I feel a huge disconnect with my students and my colleagues and that has taken a toll on me.  I feel an emptiness. Sending messages to students and families and meeting virtually with my colleague has been very important to me.  

As a school counselor for the past 25 years, my professional career is focused primarily on meeting with and advocating for students. That advocacy usually involved working directly with and talking with students. I wish I could be in school and interacting and checking in with my students. I miss them terribly.

I feel like I am keeping very busy keeping up with how this global crisis is impacting things related to my students – college admissions decision, SAT/ACT changes and AP program and testing proposals – in addition to contacting students and trying to keep things moving for the SHS academic schedule for 2020–2021 school year.  I have a group text with my two children who are not at home with us. My son lives and works in Philadelphia and my daughter is a student in Halifax Nova Scotia. Daily the three of us check in – just a word of hello or a heart to let us know we are there for each other keeps us all connected.

My dogs, Luna and Zeke, seem to be the happiest they have been in a long time.  With us home more, there are many more walks and snuggle times. They love that my son is home for college and bound to the stairs when they hear him get up in the morning.  We – my immediate and extended family – are healthy right now and I am so grateful for that. I pray for those of us who will become affected by this illness and remain hopeful that our efforts to flatten the curve will allow for all those who need healthcare will get what they need to survive this horrendous illness. 

Having my daughter in a country which closed its borders with the US and now the province she lives in, Nova Scotia, is requiring all visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival is unnerving and unsettling.  Watching the response by the Canadian government to this global pandemic has been more hopeful and we know that she is in a country that is taking all measures possible to slow the spread. Knowing that I cannot simply drive and get her home is a personal worry for me.

Cathy Collins (SHS Library Media Specialist)

Not being able to attend social gatherings is tough. I had to cancel my attendance at a friend’s wedding in Florida and will not be able to go see “Riverdance” in Boston with my family. I’m also very worried about my mother who lives in Florida by herself and has vision problems. I miss seeing the high school students each day, and teacher friends. I wish I could go to the gym and group yoga classes. I miss eating out and going to arts and theater events. 

I love being able to read a lot and having the opportunity to spend more time with my dear kitty and my hubby who works from home right now. I call my Mom each day and communicate with friends and family through phone, FaceTime, Zoom and social media. I take a long walk every day with my husband, and also do some home cooking. I’ve also spent time gathering resources like audio and ebook options which I’ve added to the SHS Library website so that students have lots of great online library resources during this time.

It’s nice to have more time in the day to just be instead of do. It’s important in life to step back and reflect. I also love having more time to enjoy nature: just watching the deer and birds in the backyard is comforting and brings me joy. I also have more time now to listen to music and read, as well as more quality time with my husband and kitty cat. I love that! 

I try to limit news intake each day so that my fear about everyone’s health does not consume me. I listen to just enough news to keep up with what’s going on and then I turn it off. My job situation is also up in the air now as the position of high school librarian (my position) has been proposed as a budget cut. Naturally, this adds to my current anxiety but I remind myself that there is only so much I can control in this world. I meditate, pray a lot and lean on my Faith to carry me through. I also find small ways to help and comfort others from the safety of home, such as by shipping hand sanitizer to older relatives or setting up food deliveries for them. I signed my Mom up for Talking Books and she loves that library service! It gives her a way to stay entertained with audio books since she can’t read or leave the house. Those small things make a difference! 

Lisa Jolicoeur (SHS English Teacher)

The new normal has changed the way I will communicate and teach my students for the next few weeks, possibly months, so I am practicing with as many electronic tools as I can, gathering relevant and useful materials to support students, and collaborating virtually with colleagues to design the best approach to deliver these materials to students. Classroom instruction has obviously changed from daily personal interaction to remote and distant learning, supported by the electronic tools we are so fortunate to have.  

However, teaching and learning have been tossed a curveball: we must find new ways to ensure our students access curriculum materials, review strategies to enhance their own learning, and engage in reflective practices to measure areas needing improving and recognize areas of strength. My son, a college senior and a National Guardsman, is balancing the rest of his senior year remotely from home, applying for post college programs, and meeting his Guard responsibilities. My husband, a facilities supervisor and subcontractor, is “on call’ for emergencies. As a family, we are mindful of appreciating our supplies, simple things such as fresh fruit, produce, medicine; communicating daily with elderly family members via text or phone calls with whom we had not necessarily communicated so frequently prior to this crisis; checking on neighbors and community friends who need some extra assistance; and enjoying Nature with a heightened appreciation and depth I had forgotten to notice in a quite some time. 

There are so many little things I miss: the simple pleasures of saying “Good morning!” a hundred times each day; reading the Jeopardy question at the beginning of each class; waiting for a student to say the “Pledge of Allegiance” each morning at the start of the day over the intercom; hearing “something positive” or “exciting” from my students’ weekend; locating where my documents printed; watering the plant in the back of my classroom; providing cookies every Tuesday afternoon for Student Council members buzzing with energy about their next event; listening to the Children Helping Children club discuss the next fundraiser; receiving a thank you note for a recommendation or college essay help; feeling the energy and snacking excitement of Eagle Block at 10:00 am each day;  sweeping and cleaning my room at the end of each day; absorbing the splashes of color from student work in my classroom, from the Matisse mural on the wall from the Art Club 15 years ago, to the Frankenstein canvas a student made for a class project, to the 6 foot dinosaur “door” a student painted for a Student Council children’s event 11 years ago, to the wolf picture a student gave me 18 years ago, to the spray painted red settee with Downton Abbey fabric – I miss these simple daily pleasures of interacting with amazing young adults in a happy space that make me smile every time I go to work!

In addition to communicating with friends, colleagues, and loved ones,  walking, and reading, I am blessed with great opportunities to contribute to the local community in many ways. 

Social media is a great way to check on loved ones daily.  I send frequent texts for a check in and follow up if I do not receive a response  with another text or phone call if I am concerned.  

I am a creature of habit and still rise early to start my day with a walk with my dog and some kind of revised fitness routine schedule of cardio, yoga, and strength training….Routine helps me balance work, activity, and communication, so I am trying to stick to it!

We are blessed to have our health, home, food, and ability to work from home and to help our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and community. A  SHS grad who owns a local restaurant posted a “volunteers wanted” when school first closed to package lunches for free distribution. Grateful to do something meaningful (and probably feeling a little antsy), I helped prep food for packaged meals; other teachers were helping as well as other SHS grads I had never met or had not seen in years. Each of our tiny contributions made a difference to someone in a significant way.  Checking in on neighbors and friends in need reminded me that a simple favor during “normal times” can be life-changing right now: a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy to pick up medicine or water for someone at risk or who can’t drive is a tiny task in my day that ensures someone else will have what he or she needs to get through the day. Preparing a meal for an elderly or ailing friend or donating a $20 supermarket gift card to a person you only know through a heart wrenching post reminds me that I am not helpless.  My local community service group mobilized to find useful projects since our annual activities will most likely be canceled: one young member is making and encouraging others to make “kindness rocks” to place along the outdoor walkway of a local nursing home so quarantined residents can look outside their windows for something bright and hopeful; one member is soliciting fabric donations and coordinating a team of people to sew protective masks for local medical professionals; the group promotes a local emergency pantry in which people are encouraged to “stock” with non-perishable items for individuals who may not have enough canned food, detergent,  or soap until the next paycheck. These are tiny blessings that motivate me on a daily basis to stay focused and positive.   

Despite all the negativity and pointing fingers at a person in charge, whether in our own community, at the state, national, or international level, I am trying very hard to focus on the positive, to make today better than yesterday, to contribute to helping one person right now, and to do my job during this new normal.   

We are the role models for the younger generation: will they see adult leaders as finger-pointing?  whining? mocking our leaders from the comfort of home or behind computer screens? asking what others can do for them?  asking for self-serving solutions or policies? complaining about things they can’t change but just want a forum to hear themselves?  

There is always room for improvement, and when the crisis passes, we can reflect upon our actions that made the days, weeks, months bearable for ourselves and others.  We never know the burdens that others carry, burdens that may be exponentially heavier during these trying times. 

Ten years ago, a colleague (now retired) taught an independent study about Eastern Philosophy and invited me to attend with eight seniors. He taught about diverse faiths as providing a path for personal growth, balance, and happiness; ultimately, he explained that daily challenges are opportunities to embrace self-improvement and provided examples from various cultures to deepen our understanding of how others model this practice. His lessons remind me that these strange new times provide an important test for me and a good time to practice patience, kindness, empathy, and generosity and hopefully become a role model I would hope to see.  

Joan Glasheen (SHS School Adjustment Counselor)

There are days I forget what day it is and have to check. Or I’ll look at the clock to see it’s one in the morning. I’m reminded of when I had a newborn running our house. I miss the rush of 1100 extraordinary teens in one place. There is something powerful and positively energetic about our collective student body. I also miss student visits. 

I’ve been reading and writing a lot, hiking new trails, and video conferencing and group texting with friends. I find it keeps me focused on what is good about the present instead of hyper-focusing on the negative effects of the pandemic. I’ve also connected with students and parents via Schoology, email and telephone calls. My sons and I are healthy and together. We are fortunate to have everything we need right now.

The pandemic is this generation’s reminder that life — despite our most meticulous plans — is unpredictable. We can’t control a global pandemic, but we can control how we respond to it. My hope is when this is behind, we’re all able to look back and say it brought out our best.

Tanya Keeney (SHS School Counselor)

I’m spending a tremendous amount of time working from home, as well as participating in numerous video meetings.  My dog is so happy I’m home though, and we’re all losing weight with the extra walks. I miss my students. Because this is my last year at Sharon High School, I’m especially sad that I’m losing time with my students and colleagues.

We have FaceTime, Zoom, and Google Hangout chats with someone at least one a day.  My parents are in their 80s and live in Minnesota. I’ve worried about them a lot, so it’s nice to see their faces. 

We need to forgive ourselves for not being as productive as we’re used to.  This is an unprecedented time in our lives, and there is no playbook for this.

Emily Burke (Science Coordinator)

I miss school/work! My kids are home with me and my husband had to close his small business. Life is completely different than what it once was. I am usually at work all day and then driving my kids to various sports/clubs after school but all of that has stopped now.

I wish I could go roam around Target or the grocery store and not worry about getting sick. I miss seeing my colleagues and my students. I wish I could go out to dinner with my friends or family. I’m working A LOT! I have been calling, emailing, texting, and video chatting with friends whenever possible to stay connected. I love my family and having them close is great and makes me less worried about them. My kids’ dance school is doing online classes so my kids are having fun “seeing” their friends and teachers online. I’m getting to spend a lot of time working on my yard and in my garden.

I hope that everyone can stay safe and healthy.  I am worried about my friends who have to work because they are police, fire, or medical workers, or grocery workers and I worry about their families too. The importance of having people to care about and who care about you has been highlighted for me during this time. We are all in this together although sometimes it doesn’t feel that way since we don’t see each other regularly anymore. I hope we can find a way to give the seniors their time to shine at prom and graduation even if it means delaying those events until the summer.

Lori Novick-Carson (SHS English Teacher)

I miss my students! I miss being in my classroom, talking with my students and hearing their ideas.  I wish I could be discussing The Great Gatsby with my juniors and Romeo and Juliet with my freshman. I spend time with my family, talking, laughing and listening to music.  I am outside in nature as much as possible, and I’m taking virtual yoga and meditation classes. I’m in a book club with my daughter and my mother, who lives in NY. I’m trying to keep a gratitude journal: every night I record a few things I was grateful for that day. This is a great way to stay positive and grounded and stay focused on what matters most.

Some positive things in my life:

1. Most importantly, my family is healthy 

2. Zoom! Zoom helps me stay in touch with my friends, colleagues, and family. My daughter, my mom and I use Zoom for our book group discussions and I meet with my fellow teachers regularly on Zoom. I’m looking forward to using Zoom with my students as well!  

3. The natural beauty of Sharon  

4. My dog, Daisy

Nina Georges (SHS History Teacher)

Just like many of us, I am home bound and social distancing. Just about everything has changed for me, my family, and friends. FaceTime is my new friend! I miss being in the same physical space with my students, colleagues, and friends. I wish I could pass materials/resources/you name it, to another person without reaching for my hand sanitizer. I wish I could stop obsessively nagging my children to wash their hands! I look forward to the day when I can hug my Ioved ones again. 

I grade, attend Zoom meetings, communicate to the Sharon community through Gmail & Schoology, “home school” my children, and plan distance learning activities with my curriculum teams. This quarantine has made me appreciate simple activities I use to take for granted. Like standing next to someone or even physically going to SHS. 

Some positive things in my life right now:

1. My Faith

2. Health 

3. Having the resources to continue to live in my house, feed my children, and donate to those in need

4. Being a full time parent to my children 

5. My cats snuggling on my lap 

6. Taking long walks, appreciating nature

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