How are you doing? This is being asked often recently. It's a question that is getting more and more difficult to answer as this worldwide pandemic rages on. It's a question many professionals are struggling with right now especially educators.

I come from a family of teachers. My Dad, along with my two brothers, an Aunt, Uncle, and Grandpa taught thousands of students throughout the midwest.

A friend of mine, Travis Jacobs, is a Sioux Falls author and poet. He wrote and recorded this spoken word “Teachers Poem: On Days No One Brings You an Apple” which you can listen to in this video. I found this to be particularly emotional, especially in light of what our teachers must be going through trying to adapt and be safe in this COVID-19 world.

I reached out to some teacher friends in the Sioux Falls area and asked them to listen to Travis's poem. Here are some of their responses.

Jodi Christian Ackerman - Brandon Valley School District:
"Thanks for sending that! I'll definitely be sharing that with my admin and staff. This year is really tough. Two week quarantines and many students ill over a number of days makes it even tougher.

We've learned many new internet platforms to share textbooks and homework, and ways to stay connected with students if they are absent, or even if we are absent. Some teachers are struggling with getting kids to get their work turned in after being in quarantine. The work is available in hard copy and via the internet.

Some families don't have the resources or time to sit down with the kids, see what they have to complete, and make sure the students get caught back up. It's hard.

Many are working longer hours this year. Teaching all day with a mask or shield all day has become the norm for many of us. I actually bought myself a portable speaker that goes around my waist, which has a mic I rest on my neck, so students can still understand what I am saying under the mask.

Personally, I'm not looking for an "apple". However, I'll never turn down gift cards for fine establishments like Scooters, Starbucks, or Caribou Coffee. The apple for me comes in a successful choir concert, or when a 3rd grader creates their own creative sentence for naming the lines and spaces of the treble clef. (Every Good Boy Does Fine - gets old...) An even bigger apple - when someone tries out for a solo for the first time, or when a student who auditions for the play says, "I never thought I would ever do something like this because of my speech impediment." Or a selectively mute student raises his hand in class to contribute to the discussion, or when a classroom teacher says to the class, "We have to stop doing Math because we have to go to music", to which I reply, "You mean you GET to go to music." which is followed by students saying, "I LIKE music class!"

The apple takes on many different forms that are difficult to describe. We've all had our bad days, but in the end, the good outweighs the bad."

Kristie Parsons Schreck - Sioux Falls School District:

"Well, that just opened my flood gates! Can you imagine being the only constant in some of these students’ lives? The only smile, hug, or love these kids get in their day? That’s a lot to carry. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. Thank you for sharing this with me. I love it!"

Patti Ward-Maguire - Sioux Falls School District

"I have heard this and I love it! This is my 23rd year in education and there is an apple every day. It’s all in how you see the day (just like Trav says). Over a week ago I saw a former student - I haven’t seen him in 10 years and that has stayed with me for days. As teachers, we know that we won’t always have an apple on the desk and this is a good reminder that there are always apples even if you can’t see them. We are all doing okay. We are truly in it together and supporting each other.

Teachers are entrusted with our most precious commodity, our kids. And right now they are being tested beyond anything anyone has ever imagined. Our teachers need all the encouragement and support we can possibly give them right now."

As Travis so appropriately reminds us, “On the days when no one lays an apple on your desk you are the front line, last line, and alphabetized ordered line of hope. For so many, you are the only consistent connection and reflection that someone in this world actually cares.”

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