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VG school administrators discuss return to school

Carol Munson
Superintendent

Bobby Beck
Elementary Principal

Sara Jones
Jr High/High School Principal

By Tony Hooker
Carol Munson, 
Superintendent
What was the first thought you had when you saw students back in the hallways and classes? 

We had students in hallways and classes last year, so the beginning of this year wasn’t novel in that sense. However, it was still exciting to see students in the building again after summer break. My first thought was what a pleasure it is to serve them, and their happy faces was evidence of just how resilient they are. The social importance of the school experience cannot be overstated.

What, if any, lessons did you learn from the pandemic that you’re able to use now? 

I learned that there is nothing that can’t be overcome. Even a worldwide pandemic. I have always known but it has been especially apparent that the community and the school will go to extraordinary lengths to provide what is best for kids.

Any less than favorable occurrences that you weren’t expecting? 

At this point, I am happy to report there isn’t anything that we weren’t expecting.

Was there ever a time that you wondered if it would ever begin to return to normal? 

This thought weighs on me daily.

How close to normal are we?  Why? 

Aside from having to mask and accompanying mitigation, we are fairly close to being normal. Students are being allowed to play sports in their correct seasons. Students are able to study and socialize more normally as long as we adhere to IDPH guidance. With a little creativity students are able to take part in most of their previous activities such as homecoming, open house, etc.

What strategies did you use to cope with the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the pandemic? 

A lot of peer support. Area colleagues have been great in working together to problem solve and provide support. 

Bobby Beck, 
Elementary Principal
What was the first thought you had when you saw students back in the hallways and classes?

Seeing students back to school for a full day made it feel like it was back to “normal”. The first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year. Students are so excited to see their classrooms and friends. I love seeing and hearing the excitement in the air. 

What, if any, lessons did you learn from the pandemic that you’re able to use now?

I have always known that if you are in education you need to be flexible and know things are going to change and just learn to roll with it. The pandemic has made that very clear! With every decision I ask myself what is best for the students. 

What has been your favorite moment so far in returning to in class learning?

Getting the time in the lunchroom with the students. I love doing lunch supervision and hearing the conversations and laughing during lunch. Rock, paper, scissors competitions with students are always fun too. 

Any less than favorable occurrences that you weren’t expecting?

None at this point. I have learned to try to find the positive in every day. We are here and we are growing. 

Was there ever a time that you wondered if it would ever begin to return to normal?

Coming back to school this year I was hoping for more of a “normal” start. Seeing the students in the building and seeing teachers teach feels like we are back to normal. 

How close to normal are we?  Why?

Other than wearing a mask and keeping 3ft spacing we are back to normal. Students are learning, having fun, and smiling. A mask might cover a smile, but I can see a smile in their eyes. The students have been amazing during this time. They are happy to be here and are making memories. 

What strategies did you use to cope with the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the pandemic?

Personally, I depended on family and friends. As a family we started to hike often and have traveled around Illinois looking for fun trails to hike. Professionally, I have reached out to other area administration for ideas and support when returning to school this year. 

Sara Jones, Jr High/High School Principal
What was the first thought you had when you saw students back in the hallways and classes?

“Oh my I have missed the sound of kids!!  Laughter, giggles, What’s up Mrs. Jones?”  

What, if any, lessons did you learn from the pandemic that you’re able to use now? 

Enjoy the little things:  Dinner together, being outside with my family, and everyone being  together at school with sports and activities! 

What has been your favorite moment so far in returning to in class learning?

Well, we were in class learning most of last year so that isn’t too different, but the feel this year in the junior high and high school is more “normal”.  At our beginning of the year kick off assembly you could literally feel the happiness from my kids!  They were bubbling and excited to be together and thrilled to have school spirit and sing the school song! Go Blue Devils!

Any less than favorable occurrences that you weren’t expecting?

Well obviously, up until a week before school started, we thought that the year was going to be normal, but the new mandate has made that not perfect, but we are surviving, and the students are adapting again.

Was there ever a time that you wondered if it would ever begin to return to normal?

 Last fall into last spring I really had my doubts that we would ever see anything close to normal, but thankfully we were all able to have a fairly normal spring even if it was a crazy mess and throughout summer, we were all able to enjoy family and friends.

How close to normal are we?  Why?

We are getting closer- Sports are happening, activities such as Homecoming are occurring, and students are learning.  All of these things are not completely without new guidelines and rules, but we are adapting and being creative!  I have the best teachers and students who always come up with ways to follow the rules and have fun and learn!  VG is the best place!

What strategies did you use to cope with the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the pandemic?

I have spent more time focusing on doing things that make me happy.  At school, I am spending every lunch with my students.  I enjoy being with them and listening to their stories and sharing their lives with me!  At home, I have spent more time cooking and canning and learning new recipes that my boys will eat!  The farm is always my happy place with my boys and animals, so I try to walk with them almost every day and just soak up the awesomeness of farm life.  I also am able to work out with amazing ladies each morning who keep me focused and help with any stress that life throws my way!

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