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Voices of SPS: Sarah Heacox-Jackson

"Distance learning is lonely for a seventh-grade math teacher. I miss Mrs. Davenport greeting me at the main doors to the school every morning saying “Well hello there!” I miss sticking my head out the classroom door to shout at a coworker or renegade child. I miss connecting with my students about their interests and daily lives. I miss laughing in the teacher's lounge about the absurdities of the day. I miss wayward glitter and abandoned brown bag lunches and Takis snuck into math class and the inordinate pride of a 12-year-old wearing a crispy new pair of Vans. I miss 7th graders’ shenanigans so much it’s shocking.

Today in 12th-period, one breakout room math discussion has gotten way too silly. The work is half done but all four previously sullen adolescents are giggling and shouting too much to get the rest of it done. I try to restore order. I can’t help it; I end up laughing and yelling along with them. I need this. They need it too. The worksheet will get finished sometime.

Truly I don’t want to be back in the building with these 600 magical adolescents. Faces play in my mind like a slideshow: my coworker with an autoimmune disease, my coworker past retirement age, my student whose elderly grandparents are the only people in her life able to take care of her, all my students who live with chronic illnesses. Case numbers are going up in the county and around the country and I know it’s not safe for us to be together.

I did the math. A seventh-grader has spent 5% of her life in a pandemic lockdown. In a survey I gave this week about distance learning, a student asked teachers to “see if we can go back to school but only if we are allowed to.” I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts on it as well. I can’t wait to be back among my people. But I will wait."

 — Sarah Heacox-Jackson, 7th-grade math, Agnes Stewart Middle School.