Editor’s note: Wendy Lang is a dear friend and former teacher in Decatur, AL.  She now works for the Alabama Education Association In Morgan and Winston counties.  She has also written a weekly column for her hometown Decatur Daily for years.  As you will see below, she is an excellent writer.

“Within two weeks, our country has gone from full speed ahead to a near standstill. In dealing with the national crisis/state of emergency due to the influx of Covid 19.  Everyone has an opinion. Some believe that its real and some think it is a media hoax. As school administrators work tirelessly to ensure that our children, families and employees are kept safe, out of harm’s way and even fed, I offer  some food for thought..

Me being me, I still remember the “good ole days” before this ever hit our radar when we were worried about springing forward and losing an hour, Friday the 13th and a full moon hitting all at the same time. Who would have thought that our issues have become far bigger than anything we could’ve imagined? Now my days consist of the endless search for one pound of fresh ground round and a four pack of Angel Soft toilet paper. My nights are filled with questions. Does Publix card you if you try to go in during the Senior Citizen hour? Is there a tee shirt I can buy that will announce to the public that my cough is from pollen and not from the Corona? Will Morgan County be forced to add a judge to handle the divorce cases that will hit the area within the next few months? Why do Nitrate gloves come only in blue? Have parents decided that teachers might be underpaid after all?  And will the legislature finally agree that perhaps educators DO know what they are doing?

Ever the inquiring mind, I wanted to know just what everyone else’s thoughts might be, and in asking, I found out more than I bargained for. Most of it more than merely impressive.

Meg Hill teaches second grade at Walter Jackson Elementary. She keeps up with her students through DoJo – whoever she is; but just as important, she has found this time to bond with her daughters. She offered to make Chicken Tetrazzini for dinner last week. Her youngest daughter, Nat-Nat didn’t remember her ever cooking. Her oldest stated confidently, “You know. That’s one of the two things she knows how to cook – that and Hamburger Helper.” Fortunately they were saved by the arrival of her husband, Jason. He brought take-out.

Jeannie Parker is a retired bus driver from Morgan County. During this pandemic she intends to stay to herself, but is open to visitors as long as they bring their own toilet paper.

Christy Anders made the transition from Special Education teacher to kindergarten teacher this year at West Decatur Elementary School. She and her son, Rhett, have spent time reading. Through the magic of technology, they have been reading to her students every day during this difficult time.

Connie Lawson of Winston County has found out that she may be a hoarder.  In cleaning out her drawers at home, she has found a plethora of pens, pencils and markers. Once school resumes, she will be sharing the wealth with the students at Lynn. They are now disinfected and there’s plenty enough to go around.

Chris Willis knows what it’s like to be a restaurateur in the Decatur area. All restaurants here are closed to the public; however, they are offering family meals with curbside delivery to sustain the public and their small businesses. Knowing that culinary is an important skill, Chris has created a FaceBook page called River City Culinary Kids. He is enlisting area chefs to offer cooking lessons to kids to give them a creative outlet during this time. As the mother of a chef, I think this is golden and I may take the opportunity to learn how to cook, myself.

Julian Harris Elementary School will be having a Neighborhood Bear Hunt this weekend.  Anyone and everyone that wants to participate must place a stuffed bear in a window of their home. Families can walk or drive though the neighborhood and hunt for bears Friday through Sunday. How many bears did you find? Where was the biggest bear? Did any homes have more than one bear? Do the math – family style.

Savanne Hammond took on her first teaching job just a few short months ago. She teaches elementary school in Hartselle and has taken the time to write each of her students just to tell them hello and to let them know they are loved.

Beth Hales is principal at Eastwood Elementary School.  Last Sunday she and her faculty decorated their cars and rode around Decatur visiting the homes of their students. They did observe social distancing by parading through, honking horns and yelling from their vehicles. It was a huge effort in allowing kids to see that even with the uncertainty of the day, everything is going to be okay.

Teachers from Banks-Caddell and Austinville Elementary Schools also took to parading in the streets to show how much they love their students and Frances Nungester Elementary will do likewise on Friday.

Dr. DeeDee Jones, Hartselle superintendent, is known for never asking someone to do something she wouldn’t do herself. She asked her central office administrators for volunteers to serve, package and hand out grab and go meals once a week for the children in Hartselle City Schools. All of them stepped up to the plate including her CNP managers who refused to take no for an answer. On Monday, they gave out 3,803 meals; five breakfasts and five lunches per student. Her exact words to me were, “We had fun!”

Math was never my strong suit. I once begged my principal to allow me to teach a lower grade because fifth grade math was way over my head. On my FaceBook account I cannot tell you the number of posts I saw from teachers offering to assist parents and shed light on the “new math” that kids need to be boning up on. I might take a lesson or two myself.

As for me, I have been delivering Corona Virus Care Kits to my elderly neighbors. Knowing the importance of “social distancing” and taking precautions, I make sure to place baggies on my hands and attach them with rubber bands at the wrist. I am not privy to any masks, so I have taken it upon myself to create my own using extra absorbent/long length bladder pads and duct tape. Should you want to do something special for your neighbors, I suggest filling your kit with the following:

Can of nuts – sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t

Bar of Soap

Bottle of water – soap and water is better than hand sanitizer

Two trial sized bottles of hand sanitizer – one for their personal use and one to sell on eBay to supplement their retirement income

Chocolate and Cheezits – the best things in life start with the “chuh” sound

End of a roll of toilet paper (You really think I’d give away a full roll? I may need that)

Small deodorant – in case of quarantine

Ink pen and a note pad – in case they want to do an addition to their will

Second hand, cheap Harlequin Romance – to occupy the mind (or whatever else might be in your garage)

Bladder pad, two baggies and some rubber bands – in case they need to get out, too

Bottom line…. I am so proud of our educators (and remember that anyone who works for a school system and touches the life of a child is an educator). This is above and beyond the call of duty. Do they deserve a raise?  Every parent in Alabama says unequivocally yes! Do they know how to handle children, the system, lesson plans, parents, and show the love? Still yes! I’m thinking that perhaps the Alabama Legislature should give the classrooms back to the educators because they’ve got this. Don’t you think?”