For schools, supporting students through this pandemic means more than creating a comprehensive distance-learning program. To help students through this incredibly challenging time, a school must be flexible, provide emotional support in addition to academic support and truly listen to what students say they need. But even before COVID-19 hit, GDS has been preparing me for difficult and uncertain circumstances in ways I never realized.
When I was in first grade, I loved playing on the monkey bars. I was determined to be able to cross the bars one way and double back. I would swing across them every single day at recess, leaving my palms covered in blisters. As much as it hurt, I loved playing on those monkey bars more than anything and I would continue to swing across them as the skin peeled painfully off my hands.
One day, my palms began bleeding, so I went to the nurse. She patched me up and told me to lay off the monkey bars—at least until my hands healed. Of course, first-grade me didn’t listen: nothing would keep me from my goal. One day, after coming back in from recess, my teacher pulled me aside. She asked me why I was still playing on the monkey bars after the nurse had told me to stop. I told her that I was already making progress towards my goal and didn’t want to quit. I thought she would tell me to stop, to let my hands heal, but instead, every day before recess, she would wrap my palms with an ace bandage and send me outside. By the end of the year, I crossed the monkey bars down and back.
Since first grade, GDS teachers have been teaching me that I shouldn’t let anything stop me from accomplishing my goals. They have supported me and given me the tools I need to succeed. I am so blessed to go to a school where I am certain that if I have an idea, there are adults in the community who will help me realize it. And while they scaffolded me, they have always pushed me to do all that I can myself. My first-grade teacher didn’t hold me while reaching across the monkey bars, but bandaged me up and drove me to do it myself.
Monkey bars may be a trivial example, especially in the face of what we are going through now, but that lesson still applies. GDS has empowered me to believe that I can push through anything, no matter how much it hurts or how impossible it may seem. So now, as I and many others struggle to make sense of everything that is happening in our world, I don’t doubt that we can all fight through this.
Liana Smolover-Bord ’21