For sure, these are very different and difficult times for all of us. We’ve all been through different strains of the flu in years past, but I think I can safely say that none of us has ever been through a deadly pandemic in our life time. This episode is for sure one for the books.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world and it has caused everyone to change their life styles, some more than others, in many different ways depending on our ages or our vocations. It’s affected how we choose to worship and even how our educations systems function. And this is what I’m writing about in this column.

I’m a very small part of the Ashland Independent School system and over the last few months beginning in late February up and into this new school year I’ve seen adjustments being made as to how our school system will function and how educating the students will take place and I’ve seen those adjustments change several times over the course of these last few months.

Decisions and plans are made today depending on mandates by the state as well as concern for all personnel, especially the students and then those decisions and plans can just as quickly be changed tomorrow, again depending on unforeseen issues that seem to pop up every day if not every hour.

But one thing in our system that hasn’t changed at all is the commitment by our administration and the dedication of our principals and assistant principals and teachers to offer the best quality education that can be given during these trying and difficult times.

As I walk the halls of our different schools during the day I sometimes stop outside a classroom and I quietly “eavesdrop” for lack of a better term, and I listen and watch teachers giving 110% effort to present lessons and instruction through a camera as if their classrooms were full of students and they were looking at these students face to face sitting at their desks. This isn’t an easy thing to do, I’m sure.

But it’s the hand that our school system as well as all school systems all over the country have been dealt, and it is what it is. Nothing is going to change within the foreseeable future so an all-out effort is being made daily to make things work. Educating students has never been easy and over the years it has become more difficult because the climate of our society has changed so dramatically.  

Educators have never been fully appreciated as they should have been, especially since the dynamics of the family and the culture of our state and nation has changed. I know this because I have several family members that are part of our amazing school system here at Ashland and they have been for well over 20 years. So I get more of an insight than maybe most people do into the inner-workings of a school system. Not every child lives in pristine conditions with TV-scripted perfect families. And yet ways to reach these children must be achieved.

When you’re listed on the rolls as homeless and sometimes all the utilities that most of us take for granted are not available, then educators have to come up with new and different and creative ways to reach even these unreachable children. Most of us can’t imagine how some of these children live much less survive. And I’m so very proud to say that our system in Ashland has been are are doing all that they can possibly do to make sure that all the students are being reached. And no doubt this is true of all of our surrounding school districts. Education all over our northeastern part of the state has always been a priority.

If there was ever a time to give out kudos or a thank you card or an encouraging word to our educators, especially our amazing teachers, that time is now. I am amazed and over whelmed at how hard everyone is working to make this most difficult time work for the betterment of the most important part of our system, and that is of course our students. Hats off to all in the Ashland Independent School District from the administration, school board, principals, assistant principals, secretaries, custodians and, yes, especially to our teachers.

SMOKEY INGRAM is a resident of Ashland who currently works in the maintenance department of the Ashland Independent School system.

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