We don't always know the value of a moment, until it's gone: Thurs. April 9

I left the house today for the first time in 10 days. Last night as I was reading student journals & grading papers, my personal laptop suddenly died. Not "the battery died and needs to be re-charged," but black screen death. RIP personal laptop. I still had 100+ emails to get through, from students, teachers and administrators. I sent a text to Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Bokinsky said I could pick up a school laptop the next day (Thursday, today). But it's end of term, and grades are due so I panicked. Then I decided that since I'd worked 10+ hr. days over the past 5 days, that maybe being forced to take a break wasn't a bad thing.

But I couldn't relax & I woke up with a migraine headache this morning.

Today, I showered and put on make-up & actual clothes (that weren't pajamas) and went out. I drove to CMS to pick up the school laptop. I saw Mr. Bokinsky and we talked a bit. He walked me down to Mrs. Kreis's classroom. Room A118. The school was dark and empty.

When I walked into Mrs. Kreis's classroom, I looked around. It felt different. Empty. Sad.

All of the things that make school a school- like students, teachers, the sounds of laughter and life- were not there. I got the laptop and a few personal things I had left behind on that last day. March 13th: the last day of school.

As I turned out the lights and closed the door behind me, I realized that this was the very last time I would ever be in that room. Suddenly I felt empty inside.

I was only at CMS for 6 weeks. But in that time I fell in love with the 8th grade class. The students were animated, bright and full of life. Some loud and some very quiet. Some I had gotten to know very well because they would spend their lunch period with me almost every day. And a handful of really quiet students who I never got a chance to really get to know. I think it's easy to take things- and time- for granted. We always think we have all the time in the world. But we never know when something we love might suddenly come to an end.

I thought I would have another 6 weeks with them; but I didn't. It all ended suddenly on a sunny Thursday afternoon, around 4pm on March 12th, when Gov. Hogan announced that all Maryland schools would be closed. The next day (our last day), Friday, March 13th, was so chaotic-- teachers scrambling around to prepare, and kids both excited and confused about what they would be doing from home for the next few weeks. No one realized it might be the very last day we would all be in that school together. And the 8th graders, who would normally complain about having too much work to do, or about being tired-- would suddenly get their wish: school as they knew it was coming to an end. At least temporarily. No one knew it might be our last day at CMS. Certainly not me.

As I walked out the front doors of CMS this morning, new laptop in hand, sadness washed over me. I walked to my car in the empty parking lot. Then it started to rain. I felt a sense of regret. I realized that I didn't have the chance to say goodbye to anyone. Not to the wonderful teachers and the amazing staff who helped me so much along the way. And not to the 118 students who I was so blessed to see each day.

I left CMS and drove to the grocery store. I shop at Aldi because it's smaller and less expensive than the other stores, and I can get in & out quickly. A month ago, if you saw someone wearing a face mask at a store or anywhere else, you might think they looked odd or out of place. But today, almost every person I saw was wearing one. Suddenly this whole surreal situation- social distancing, face masks and life during coronavirus- all felt very real.

When I walked into Aldi, they had a display of beautiful pink tulips and purple lilacs for sale. Money is tight right now, but they were so pretty, I bought one of each. There's nothing better than the fresh scent of lilacs in the spring. I figured having something bright & pretty in the house would cheer my daughter and I up. Then I saw a display of Haribo gummy bears and it made me miss my 8th graders even more. (They know why.) I tossed a bunch of bags into my cart, and then I threw in a large bag of Easter candy (M&M's, Snickers, Starburst, and Twix). I came up with an idea to have a contest; and that I would mail the winners a prize- chocolate, candy & gummy bears- to their houses. If I couldn't see my students in person, at least I could still try to stay connected to them in some small, fun way.

When I left, I noticed a warning light was flashing on the dashboard of my car. One of the tires was low on air pressure. I usually go to Mr. Tire for things like that, but I was tired and just wanted to get back home. I stopped at a gas station and decided to try fixing it myself. I've never done that before but it was pretty easy. While I was filling the tire up, it started to pour down rain. The wind was blowing very hard and I got soaking wet. I didn't care. I just wanted to get back home.

We live in the country surrounded by rolling hills and farms and it was a peaceful ride back. By the time I got home, the sun had come out again. It was still windy & chilly, but sunny and beautiful. My daughter helped me put all of our groceries away, but I set aside the Haribo gummy bears & Easter candy. Which comes to the contest.

The first contest will be a Photo Contest. Pick your favorite photo of your pet (or pets) and submit it via email, or you can DM it to me via Instagram by clicking here. I will pick the best ones. Contest #1:  Submit your favorite photo of your pets or an animal. Winners will:

  1. Have their photos posted on the website: “Be a Better Human” (here!)

  2. Receive a cool prize (candy, chocolate, gummy bears & more) - *mailed to your home*

  3. Winning photos will be featured on the Instagram account: @one_eyed_boy 

  4. Have their photos shared with all CMS 8th grade students, teachers & staff!

Contest Deadline: Friday, April 17, 2020

Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2020

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