Texas Educators Are Rising to the Challenge

March 26, 2020 |

In an instant, everything has changed. Texas educators are responding to the call. They deserve our thanks and our support, now, and as we look to the future.

The current global health crisis has toppled economic markets, forced Texans to shelter in place, and closed schools across the state. But it has done nothing to diminish the determination of Texas educators to meet the needs of all students. If anything, it is reaffirming what every prior man-made or natural disaster — from school shootings to hurricanes — has revealed about our teachers and school leaders … The state of our education community is strong and courageous, caring and resilient. Educators’ response to COVID-19 is living proof.

Cafeteria staff in San Antonio ISD donned gloves and prepared turkey sandwiches, nachos, chicken burgers, pizza, and salads for free curbside pickup and delivery of food to bus stops.

Teachers in Tomball ISD led a spirited car parade through local neighborhoods to let their students know they’re loved — and families took to the streets with posters, chalk drawings, puppies, and pom poms to send their own love right back to their educators.

Abilene ISD staff collected and delivered care packages to homeless families with school-age children.

The superintendent of Westwood ISD took to Twitter to share with students how much the district’s teachers miss and care for their students, how they are preparing to connect with students, and how we will all get through this moment in time, together.

In many respects, our daily structures feel like they’ve crumbled. The anxiety is palpable. We all are having to adapt to a different way of life. And yet, everywhere you look, Texas educators are standing in the gap for students and families, repairing what feels broken. Because they can. Because they always do. 

Now, our educators face a new, daunting challenge — connecting with and inspiring students to keep learning through remote approaches. Our teachers weren’t trained for this. Our school systems weren’t built for this. And our state supports weren’t designed for this. Nevertheless, our educators are modeling flexibility and persistence for their students. 

Every day, young students are asking when they’ll get to go to school and see their teachers. Parents and guardians are working hard to support their students at home, and countless posts are honoring the value of teachers all over social media:

— Television producer Shonda Rhimes on Twitter

— New York public school administrator Steven Garcia on Twitter

— NBC Sports Anchor John Chandler on Twitter

This week, teachers will be reaching out to their classes. They will serve as a light for millions of students. Because they can. Because they always do. 

Education will not look the same in the next few months, and we shouldn’t judge its impact in the same way we would if teachers and students were still in classrooms. Right now, students need to feel connected. They need to feel part of a community. They need to feel cared for. They need channels for support, engagement, creativity, and expression. Teachers remain committed to these priorities, because they remain committed to the well-being of their students. 

There are amazing stories of leaders, of helpers, of innovators who are working to make the best of this tough situation. We will be seeking those stories out and sharing them through our social presences, using the #TxEdRising hashtag, so we hope you’ll connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There also are many experts with profound and poignant perspectives on what this crisis means in the near-term and what the future could look like. We will be seeking out their insights and profiling them in the Rising to the Challenge section of our website and through social media. And of course, we have some thoughts of our own that we hope might inform and inspire the work of the education community, philanthropic and community leaders, and policymakers. We hope to hear from you, too. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, let’s all take a breath, and give a bit of space, a little grace, and a lot of thanks and support to the teachers and school leaders who are doing everything they can to respond to the call and build a stronger future for our students — for us all. 

Because they can. 

Because they always do.

We'd love to hear from you!

We’re looking for stories from students, teachers, and school leaders about your experiences, challenges, and strategies you think might benefit others. Please share your perspectives and let us know how you’re approaching and responding to the current situation. And know that you are not alone in these struggles. We thank you, we honor you, and we want you to know we are cheering you on.

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