After “Pandemic” was Declared Word of the Year, Many Teachers begin Yearly Reflections


McKenzie Mollica

“Pandemic” is named Word of the Year after searches for the word have been increasing since January.

McKenzie Mollica, Senior Editor-In-Chief

2020 has been a rough year, and on November 21, “Pandemic” was named 2020 “Word of the Year.”  Teachers have no doubt been one of the hardest hit groups.  With the end of the year approaching quickly, reflection becomes beneficial for many.  As many teachers reflect on 2020, the pandemic portion to be more exact, they start from the very beginning.  


“I remember being relieved that they were shutting schools for two weeks while we figured out what was happening. Before they shut schools I felt like I was watching something close in on us. It kept getting closer and closer. I felt safer and relieved at the beginning when I was at home,” explained Oakdale High School Art 1 teacher and Yearbook Coordinator, Mrs. Bethany Dentes.


The announcement of beginning a 2-week shutdown came, and the reactions had a wide range.  Some were very surprised, while others knew it was coming.  Initial reactions aside, many people realized how crucial an extension would be.  The goal of this extension would be to help contain the spread of the Coronavirus.  


Life before the quarantine was quite different than what it is now.  Most people did not realize how many of their daily activities they would have to change to be able to adapt during the pandemic.  Mr. Shaun Weiss, Math Teacher at OHS, had described his life before the quarantine quite simply: “It was very normal. I would teach my classes at school enjoying the time with my students, coach my tennis girls after school and then spend the evenings and weekends having family time and running my own kids to their sporting activities.” 


However, when you listen to the description of life during quarantine, you will notice that it seems to be everything but normal. The two biggest changes he pointed out were regarding teaching and athletics for his kids. 


“Teaching virtually (while I know I can do it successfully) is just not the same and it is definitely harder to build relationships with students (but I think I am doing okay with it even though I don’t see many of my students faces). Both my kids had their sporting activities shut down as well and while my daughter is back to her swimming (even though it is a bit different) my son hasn’t gotten back to his activities only being 5 but I’m hoping we’ll get him back active in the spring. I try to play even more with him now (as he loves sports) and build skills so when he gets back with his friends that he’s able to keep up and hopefully excel,” described Mr.Weiss. 


Making these adaptations is difficult for a majority of people..  For some, even though making these changes and adaptations were difficult, some good did come out of the pandemic.  When taking the time to look back on the pandemic, and think about how they have dealt with things, it’s important to look at the good and the bad.  


Nathan Smarick, an American Studies II and AP US History teacher at OHS, took a more historical approach to hardships faced during the pandemic: “The social isolation has been difficult for me and most people. But another thing that was difficult for me was seeing the 1st Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of religion being suspended this spring. Did the lockdown saves lives? Yes. But I never thought I’d live to see the 1st Amendment rolled back by decrees by governors.” 


Mrs. Amy Pyles, the Work Study Teacher at Oakdale High, had also explained how she was one of many who had to cancel family trips because of the pandemic.  Although her trip with her family had been cancelled, she still was able to shed some light on some fun she had with her kids on a vacation they took over the summer.  


“Searching for starfish with my daughter and son this summer at the beach. Found a ton in the sand and we rescued them. Our normal beach trip which includes tons of activities and going places. It was nice to relax at the beach and look for shells and starfish and I got lots of reading done,” mentioned Mrs.Pyles.


Memories have a huge role in reflections.  People are making memories every second, minute, and hour of their lives. 

When we experience things like a global pandemic, it is a real eye opener for many.  Events like these are what really shed light on important lessons for us to learn.


Mrs. Dentes learned a lesson about mental health, and it could be very helpful for many.   “This pandemic has taught me that stress has a huge impact on my overall health and wellness. At the beginning of the pandemic I was relieved to be home but was also super stressed because we didn’t know what was going to happen and what level of disease we were going to be dealing with.,” Mrs. Dentes detailed.  


Overall, the pandemic has had major impacts on the world. For mental health purposes, it can sometimes be very beneficial to take time to reflect.  Reflecting on both the good and the bad is a great way to assess what you should work on, and set goals for the new year. The teacher’s have a different perspective of the pandemic than students.  How do the students feel about the pandemic?