What’s Next?

By Elisa A. Ferrell

Board Representative | District 3 | Huntsville City Schools

Have you ever had one of those situations where circumstances stack up and things keep going sideways? I have! About seven years ago I went to a conference and took my family with me. We were at Orange Beach.

My kids unloaded the van when we pulled into our hotel. I turned around and looked at them and they all looked depressed.  When I asked what was wrong, they said my daughter’s suitcase wasn’t there. We had left it in the foyer at home. When we got to our room, the curtains were missing, and the parking lot light was shining in our room. The person at the desk gave me thumb tacks and bedsheets and late at night, I stood on a wobbly wicker chair and thumb tacked sheets to the wall. The next day we found out my youngest son did not pack any pants or shorts.  Later that day the next right hook came when one of my other sons walked into the gulf with his phone in his pocket; and the salt water killed it. I had told, okay maybe nagged, my children about sunblock. They did apply it, and then just never reapplied it, and that night they were all lobsters.

Later my sister-in-law, Ellen called. She was with my mother-in-law, and they were watching my dog. My dog would not let Ellen anywhere near my mother-in-law, who had recent knee surgery. He thought he was protecting her from Ellen. He bit her and she had to chase the dog into the laundry room with a broom. As I was sitting in the last day of the conference, I got a call from my neighbor in Huntsville. She hated to tell me bad news, but an exceptionally large tree branch had fallen onto our house and the roof, back deck and patio furniture were all severely damaged. I left the conference about 30 minutes early so we could get back and deal with the house. Later a colleague told me my name was called in a drawing where “you must be present to win” and I missed out on something. Who knows what it was! It was a crazy trip, and one that pushed our patience to the edge. We laugh about it now, but we weren’t laughing back then, we were more like Eeyore under a rain cloud.

I don’t think any of us will ever laugh about the last year and a half. Everyone’s experience has been different. It has been tumultuous, anxiety inducing and even heart breaking for some. It has allowed others to spend more time with family and have the freedom of options when it comes to school and work. People like our teachers and front-line workers, have risked personal safety to teach or care for someone else. Many are “just over it”, many are still traumatized by their experiences. Whatever the situation, we have all been changed by it. So, what is next? What lessons will we take from our last year and half?

The first lesson is that we need each other. Our students especially need social interaction, and the support of friends and family. The second is that we have ground to make up. For adults it might be getting back into a routine. For students it might be catching up on all the learning they lost out on because remote learning wasn’t for them.   The third is that we need to have patience, and the ability to stay the course; get through the rough patch and know that there are better days ahead. What lessons did you learn? How will you make your life better as you move onto what’s next?

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