A message from Missouri Teachers of the Year: School Buildings May Be Closed But Our Hearts Are Open

MO Teachers of the Year


Anyone else been keeping extra busy, powering through emails, creating learning opportunities, sitting through Zoom meetings, and navigating tricky discussions between students and staff? Yeah. Us too. We’ve been talking about the policy of grading and of transcripts. We’ve figured out how to get packets of curricular instruction safely to our youngest learners. We’ve spent time agonizing over hungry kids, a lack of technological access for all, and a host of other inequities. Maybe, just maybe, as stressful as this busy time has been, it’s protected our hearts from something we felt deep down was inevitable. School building closure.

We left our classrooms recently--maybe some of them less organized than we wished--and we had no idea we wouldn’t be returning for so long. We would have gently preserved the evidence of student work on our walls. We would have grabbed resources to plan for next year had we known. We would have given our students extra love and inspiration to tide them over longer than a weekend or spring break. We would have given our colleagues a hug and reminded each other we are an email or text away.

It’s just not the same virtually. What we love about our profession is the energy our students give us, and now we are left with the parts of our job that take the energy instead of giving it. Teachers, we see you, and we share in your hurt.

We see you mourning with your students’ families over increased food insecurity and lack of mobility. We see you heartbroken that the student who was making great strides might regress without classroom reinforcement.

We see you empathizing about kids missing field days, awards ceremonies, and graduations.

We see you missing seniors who won’t be back in your classroom.

We see you...

             May we offer hope?

Is it possible, given this heartbreaking interruption, that society will know more the vital role schools play in the physical, social, and emotional health of children?

Is it possible there will be a tighter school/family connection because of this?

Is it possible students will remember how loved their teachers made them feel even through computer screens, phone calls, handwritten letters, and those awesome drive-by teacher parades?

Is it possible our students will be prepared in ways our coursework wouldn’t have offered?

Is it possible the inequities exposed by this crisis will become part of the conversation now and moving forward?

Is it possible our public schools will emerge stronger than ever?

             We think it is.

One of the joys of our career is that there is an end point each school year, and we get a fresh start the following year. Sure, this was not the end point we wanted. So, cry if you need, and quiet your heart and your work enough to let the reality sink in.

But after that, dry your eyes and get yourself some computer glasses (no more eye strain and headaches!). You’ll need them for all the virtual teaching and learning and to bring focus to the future.

And clothe yourselves also with grace; grace to yourself as you make incredible adjustments, and grace to our wonderful students as they face new realities. We are all fortunate to be in a profession in which love is our mandate; through love we will bravely face each day.

And let’s remember: Through educating and empowering our students, teachers are able to build hope for our future. And hope for our future is what every single one of us needs right now.


Missouri State Teachers of the Year
Melissa Grandel, 2020
Shelly Parks, 2019
Beth Davey, 2018
Darbie Valenti, 2017
Linda Glasgow, 2016




Posted Date: 4/16/2020
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Get the latest information at www.mnea.org/coronavirus.


Share your story

Even though we are not at school supporting Missouri students, members continue to help every day during this crisis. MNEA wants to share your stories as we struggle through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are hearing about members who are continuing to care for their students by

  • volunteering at school district Grab & Go meal distribution centers and food drives
  • providing child care for essential medical staff
  • shopping for the elderly so they don’t have to leave the safety of their homes

Your stories help show that educators don’t stop caring. Please send your stories with pictures to MNEA at coronavirus@mnea.org, so we can share them. You can post to social media, making sure you tag @MissouriNEA and use the hashtags  #MNEAheroes and  #MNEAprotects.