“Y ou never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

- Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

On Tuesday, school communities around the state got the sad but not entirely surprising news. Students and teachers would not be returning back to their school building through the end of the 2020 school year.

The irony of the timing of that statement is that it was made on Teacher Appreciation Day. This week, in fact, is Teacher Appreciation Week. But Tuesday, May 5, is the special day.

During this pandemic, now that parents are required to manage their childrens’ learning from home, there’s never been more appreciation for what teachers do and have done. In Darien, teachers are making tribute videos, home visits with respect for social distance, and creating an effective eLearning program for their students of all ages and needs with a short turnaround time.

Walking a mile in the teacher’s shoes, or many miles at this point, parents are learning so much about the challenges teachers face. Trying to motivate and get our children to focus, all while their social lives and social norms have been upended, can be exhausting. And teachers are often teaching their own children at the same time.

This year, there’s also a moment to salute parents who are homeschooling as educators, often while balancing other jobs and responsibilities, and helping navigate our children through what is likely the most trying time of their young lives.

There is gratitude toward the school administration and the Board of Education for striving to keep our children educated, comforted and fed with free school lunch programs.

And in no small way, our students are teaching us — especially those students who are transitioning to new schools, or college seniors losing the end of their college experience. Most of all, the Darien High School Class of 2020. Those students who looked forward to celebrating the end of their dedicated hard work, being the team captain, that internship, or just spending these last months with friends.

These students are teaching us resilience. They are teaching us they can handle what is just a simply unfair, unsettling, and unhappy turn of events and still come out shining as the Darien students they are. They continue to volunteer. They hang up posters thanking first responders. They collect donations for those in need. They play their instruments for all to enjoy. They work as medics at EMS Post 53.

Our students are learning life lessons that none of us would wish for them, but in the process, they are teaching us they can overcome life’s obstacles and using them as stepping stones.

And these students are successful at this because of their teachers — their school teachers who have gotten them this far, and their parents who have taught them to be who they are.

Let’s celebrate the teachers — all of them — together in this challenging time, but apart.