Richard Swerdlow: Show and Tell

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 (Richard Swerdlow)

As teachers, administrators, students, and parents wrestle with COVID restrictions, Richard Swerdlow sees a bright ray of hope.

Schools from coast to coast are struggling to stay open as the pandemic rages. With so many teachers out sick, schools are deploying everyone, even superintendents, to cover classes.

I was sent to teach first grade. Teachers may be essential workers, but classrooms feel like Russian roulette, all day in one room, sharing your air with dozens of others. Most essential workers in harm's way have protection - health care workers are masked, gowned, and gloved; police wear protective vests; firefighters kitted out in fire-resistant gear. Teachers, in some districts, are not even issued masks.

But my district does have safety protocols, providing teachers and students with PPE and testing. The teacher was out sick with COVID, but she left a lesson plan - after reading and math, it was "show and tell" time.

One girl displayed a terra cotta pot and explained how she grew the tiny sprout. A boy showed a photo of his colorful pet parrot. Another girl showed a locket her grandmother gave her the day she was born. Each student, an object, a story.

And listening, for a moment I forgot about masks and hand sanitizer. These kids may be facing a world overflowing with problems - wars, wildfires, diseases - but during "show and tell," amid laughter and "oohs" and "ahs", school felt hopeful.

These six-year-olds, like every generation, will face their own set of challenges. But if they are as resourceful and enthusiastic as they are during "show and tell," they will figure out solutions.

COVID is taking its toll, but school is still full of interesting things to show and wonderful stories to tell. These kids showed me that, and I can’t wait to see what they will show and tell all of us when it's their turn to run the world.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

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