Bright, alert, and supportive, Middle School Science Teacher Mary Anderson possesses a range of gifts. A “superstar teacher," she sees her mission with an almost flawless lens and with the capacity to curate knowledge from shards of information.
Year in and year out, she sees skill where skill is obscured by ego or anxiety and understands the redemptive power of a simple gesture of encouragement.
Approaching almost 40 years as an educator, Middle School Science Teacher Mary Anderson embraced March 19, 2020, as if it were the first day of school. Students connected with her through Zoom, finding her poised for action in her kitchen replete with marble countertops, beautifully-stained wooden cabinets and stainless steel appliances, a setting more befitting an episode of an HGTV show. Her kitchen though had been transformed into a classroom, complete with signage for guidance and inspiration, just like her real classroom on campus.
Over her left shoulder, a poster reads, "Welcome to the Anderson Zoom Room." Yet, on closer inspection, she has imbedded the inscription: "Say Yes to New Adventures." Over her right shoulder, she posted, "I Can Do This!" Off to the side, adjacent to the refrigerator, she offers advice to remedy boredom: "Make Dinner!"
Anderson carried herself with confidence, attuned to the anxiety and trepidation her students try to conceal as she brought them together. The energy and excitement of a welcomed structure immediately put the boys at ease.
The only complaint? Her boys want to sign in earlier and hang out, just as they do in real-time. Such composure – focus, poise and grace – can only manifest itself when an educator is deeply and thoroughly prepared physically, emotionally and intellectually. Because even though it appeared to be magical, it's not magic at all. It's a carefully and thoughtfully constructed dynamic that requires preparation, commitment, focus, resilience and moxie.
The tension of time limits, policy restrictions, and orchestrating two family weddings during the time of COVID-19 serves up a heaping helping of suspense. Yet, on this "first day of school," Anderson's students were, in fact, the best version of themselves. More importantly, they wanted to know more. That alone is a wonderful thing to celebrate.