With the telltale signs of his wife returning home from work, Jeremy Dunn holds his 10-month-old son close. Tucking him in the crook of his arm with one hand and cradling the infant's feet, the goal is to keep Callum distracted. The older sons, Liam and Aiden, join the charade, knowing not to say “Mommy’s Home!” Liam and Aiden go out of their way to prevent the littlest one from running up and giving her a hug.
Anna Dunn enters through the garage. Doffing protective gowns and leaving scrubs in a basket, the physician’s assistant removes her shoes. The smallness of these measures, in contrast with the enormity of the risks involved, makes the transition from hospital to home especially important.
Anna pays close attention to little things like switching from contact lenses to glasses so she won’t touch her eyes, or tying back long hair so it doesn’t need to be adjusted. She wipes down keys, pens and glasses and keeps placing her phone in a clear, zip-close bag. Aware that the sound of a key in the door and the knob turning would stir the baby, Anna tiptoes carefully into the house. With no hugs from the children or welcome from Jeremy, she showers, scrubs and relaxes.
Anna devotes her days to St. Mary’s Hospital’s surgical oncology unit and moonlights for Tuckahoe Orthopedics. A selfless and gifted medical professional, she works tirelessly to halt the pandemic’s spread. Her Facebook page includes a picture of a book of matches, one half burned and one half untouched. Only one lone match, deliberately pulled away, separates the two sides, a perfect metaphor for what’s at stake.
Her husband Jeremy does not get out much. In fact, the St. Christopher’s middle school science and drama teacher never leaves the house. Thick-hearted and effusive, he works hard at everything he does. Nothing in the Dunn household is lackluster, labored or dull. He knows how to entertain his boys and how to calm them. He gives kudos to Lower School teachers for creating meaningful and manageable assignments. “The tasks are fun and the boys are happy to do them. Our only issue is making sure we have enough computers to cover who needs what when!”
A prescient father, noting his sons’ obsession with screen time, he enforces limits and uses the privilege as a bargaining chip. Liam and Aiden compete to do household chores and take on babysitting duties with no whining or finger-pointing. The reward: 15 extra minutes of screen time.
In addition to keeping his sons on task and connected, Jeremy has his own classes to teach. His co-teacher Keena Fitch applauds his passion, creativity and work ethic. “Quality-oriented, he does things right and his work is pristine,” Fitch said.
Jeremy possesses a commanding voice, perfectly suited to a man comfortable behind a teacher’s lectern or on stage. He also teaches two electives, sixth grade theater arts and eighth grade drama. A master at stagecraft, Jeremy inspires students with his playful energy and contagious enthusiasm.
Jeremy proudly embraces his wife’s devotion to her work. “Anna tends to be a mission-based person. I want her to feel supported in every way possible. And I try to give her as much space as she needs when she comes home.” He fiercely protects downtime for her to re-energize and re-invigorate. Meanwhile, Anna looks forward to cuddling with Callum or playing with her older boys. Her one guilty pleasure is tending to aquariums stocked with exotic fish. Every now and then, she sneaks in new fish behind his back.
At night, Jeremy prepares a whiteboard with next-day Zoom schedules. He also uses this time to listen to the Rev. Durk Steed’s messages. “I'm not a particularly religious guy. I haven't been to church in ages, but there has been something particularly helpful about taking those mindful minutes to listen in when they arrive.”