Stay safe, stay healthy. Those are the words I use when I say goodbye now. In the past month, my entire vocabulary has shifted. Words like pandemic, quarantine, masks, and social distancing, are words I use more often than I would prefer. I miss the comfortable words of the past. I miss the simplicity of saying, “see you tomorrow,” and the normalcy those words carried with it. I often find myself thinking of the moments so many people had stolen from them due to this pandemic. I think of the seniors who will not be able to have a graduation ceremony. I think of my own children having their time cut short with their teachers. I think of the birthdays being celebrated alone at home. I think of my class that can no longer attend the field trip we have been looking forward to all year. It all seems so sad.

But this week, my perspective slowly started to shift. I was able to reconnect with my students online. I have smiled and laughed more in the past 4 days than I have in an entire month. Seeing my students faces, hearing them as they talk about how we will get through this, watching them persevere… it has been nothing short of inspiring. To top it off, a large group of PHS students created a YouTube video saying “thank you” to the staff for working so hard to come up with learning solutions through this pandemic. As a Cheetos Club mentor, I can assure you that I had nothing to do with the creation of this video. It was all the students! Teenagers frequently get a bad reputation. But when I think of these students, I don’t use the all-too-often descriptions of lazy or disrespectful.  I would describe them as resilient and strong. In a time when they could be dwelling on the moments stolen from them, they are choosing to look at the moments given to them from this pandemic.

Our lives have changed drastically in the past month. And while this pandemic has taken a lot from us, some far more than others, it has given us some tremendous gifts too. I encourage you to look at the moments given to you; the time with family, the time to slow down, the time to connect in new ways. There is a lot we can be grateful for. It took a group of amazing teenagers to remind me that sometimes, it’s all about perspective.