IN PICTURES: Surry teachers, students joyfully reconnect though still socially distant

By: Terry Harris | Twitter: @SSDispatch
Posted: May 21, 2020 | 12:45 p.m.

SURRY – Surry County School administrators and teachers recently came up with an innovative way to reach out to students isolated by the early school closing this year due to COVID-19. Their solution was so popular that it lit up the internet, and last weekend Superintendent Serbrenia Sims explained how it came about.

“We had an instructional leadership team meeting on May 5,” Dr. Sims began, “and it occurred to me as we were sitting there talking – some of us in person, and some virtually – that it’s so important to have human contact during this crisis. And I began thinking that if it mattered so much to us, how much more must it matter to the students who were at home missing their friends and their teachers and the social interaction they were accustomed to.”

So after the meeting, Sims sent out an email to everyone in the Surry County Public School system inviting them to make posters of themselves missing the kids and “send them in for me to post together on our website and Facebook.”

The response was almost immediate.

“Within an hour of my sending that message out, posters and pictures started coming back in!” she said, laughing and adding, “I got over 60 responses! The first one came from Vanessa Scott, and I thought ‘She must have been sitting by waiting for this chance to reconnect to the kids!’”

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“It’s one thing to have them gone for just a few weeks over the summer,” Sims continued. “That gives us a chance to rest up, clean up, freshen up and prepare for the upcoming year. But this extended separation from our kids is just not good for the kids and it’s not good for the adults who have made a career of serving them.”

“There’s nothing as cold and sterile as a school without students,” Sims added. “It’s like an absence of joy. And the joy that’s missing is the sights and sounds and interaction with the children. So that’s why we just wanted to let the students and families know how much we missed having them in school. This is what we live for.”

Sims said that as soon as the pictures of the teachers with their handmade posters went up online, the pages started “lighting up.”

“On my goodness, I think the families were waiting for this, too!” Sims said. “I honestly think the adults were at least as excited as the kids. This is the most popular – the most ‘liked’ thing – that we have ever put online since we began the pages. People have gone through the whole album and clicked ‘like’ on one photo after another after another. It’s really exciting to everyone – and important for the kids, the families, and for us at the schools – to affirm that we all miss each other, and we all genuinely care. We just wanted students and families to know how much we missed them.”

Copyright 2020 Womack Publishing 

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